FEATS, the Festival of European Anglophone Theatrical Societies, is an annual competition between English-speaking amateur theatrical groups resident in mainland Europe to see who can put on the best production. That’s the brief description.
It’s also a chance to see four evenings of first-class entertainment consisting of three one-act plays per evening.
When the curtain goes up, the actors perform either published plays or original scripts. A time-limit is imposed (minimum twenty minutes, maximum fifty-five, subject to variation from one year to the next. See FEATS rules.
The performances take place under the critical eye of an invited adjudicator. He or she must be a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators. The adjudicator’s duty is to award points for each performance and make constructive criticism afterwards.
We have seen some breathtaking and moving performances over the years; some have gone on to win other festivals; some original plays have been published. And it must be remembered that everyone who takes part is doing so “just for fun”. Everybody relishes the chance to take over a complete professional theatre for a while.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of action backstage. The competing teams have only ten minutes to place their set, and only five minutes to strike it afterwards (take it down again), leaving a bare stage for the next group. They have just two hours’ practice during the day of their performance, which includes all the technical preparation necessary for the production. This stimulates creative solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems – our backstage crews can build complete rooms quicker than anyone.
The festival started many years ago as a friendly sparring match between a few groups in the Benelux countries, and has since grown to a four-day festival of international renown. There are activities during the day to ensure a busy weekend, including workshops, tours of the town/region, discussion forums, and the now famous Fringe, which provides a platform for the most varied types of entertainment – not to be missed!
Has this whetted your appetite for more? See “Future FEATS” on the right to find out where it’s happening next.