Summary of the FEATS forum held on the last day of FEATS 2013 in The Hague
For reasons of privacy, individual speakers from the floor are identified only by an abbreviation of their group name plus, where necessary, a number. It is not a verbatim report, although it is presented in the form of a dialogue to improve readability.
The summary is prepared by the FEATS permanent secretary, who assumes all responsibility for errors and omissions.
(After introducing the members of the steering committee.) Thanks to AATG for the organisation and to participating groups for a good selection of plays. Firstly, I’d like to present the FEATS stage-manager.
I’m pleased by how well things are going and am happy to take questions.
One group made successful use of extra “legs” [curtains] to narrow the stage area. We would also have liked to be told about that option.
That group asked if it was possible. We just answered questions that were put to us.
Groups should bear in mind that advance visits to the theatre are usually organised by the host group. A visit would often help with staging issues. It is true, however, that distance is sometimes prohibitive.
People shouldn’t hesitate to ask for advice.
Ask for everything; you won’t get everything, but you should get some things.
The evening’s programme was often very long, too long.
The audience was often slow to come in after the intervals, which didn’t help.
Adjudication was more or less at 22.30 every evening, plus 45 minutes takes it to 23.15. People are here to enjoy themselves. We have to allow time for socialising.
FEATS “outsiders” are put off by the length of the evening. Cut intervals to 20 minutes, and set maximum length of play at 45 minutes. The steering committee should play a bigger role here.
SM left to a round of applause.
The steering committee is working on ways to ensure greater compliance with FEATS rules, particularly in the run-up to the festival, when deadlines are often ignored. Possible penalties, including deductions from the performance bond, are under discussion.
When will these penalties come into effect.
For FEATS 2014.
I’d like to ask about the hosting rota, and whether there would be a possibility for Entity to host some time. What support would there be? Is there any record of host groups’ experiences in the past? What should we be aware of?
The steering committee is working on a checklist for organising groups. Do you have a theatre?
We have the possibility of a theatre seating between 500 and 600.
There are detailed reports on FEATS made by each host group and submitted to the steering committee after the festival.
I’ll send the reports from the last few years to Entity.
This is by no means a definite proposal, but we’d perhaps be looking to host in four years’ time, or so … say 2017, depending on when there’s a vacant slot.
General enthusiasm was expressed about the possibility of FEATS being held in Munich.
As we are hosting next year, we’re interested in any ideas for attracting audiences.
The adjudication may be offputting for casual visitors who just come to see the plays. It’s important to give people a chance to leave after the third play if they are not interested in the adjudication.
But the adjudication is something that outsiders are not aware of before they come. It doesn’t deter them from buying a ticket in the first place.
It’s important to identify and target English-speaking community.
Yes, target international organisations and companies. Use social media. FEATS does have a weak point, in that its rotating venues mean that it lacks momentum in any given locality.
Experienced host groups could act as a helpline. Maybe set up a knowledge base on the Web.
Some of the work could be shared out to volunteers from elsewhere. I’m thinking, for example, of programme production if a group lacks the expertise in that field, but there are other possibilities. Maybe such tasks could be advertised on the Web site to appeal for help.
The role of the adjudicator should be explained in the programme. The whole functioning of the festival should be made clearer to those not familiar with it.
In 2009 ECC offered an audience scorecard, just for fun, in the programme. The aim was in part to draw attention to the scoring system.
This year’s programme was not very clear sometimes. In particular, it wasn’t obvious which of the scripts were original.
What’s the favoured format for programmes? It would be good to have some opinions. Any other comments?
This year was the first time the printed programme had included the fringe acts.
An access map would be useful.
We should be able to attract audiences by improving the quality of performance. Are standards falling? How can we measure quality?
The variety that FEATS offers is one of its strong points. But the quality of performances is not a selling factor: by the time the audience have seen the performances they have already bought their tickets. The challenge is getting them to buy the ticket in the first place.
The host group should take part in its own festival. It already has a certain amount of audience loyalty. AATG’s excellent fringe offering was packed out.
A nice idea, but our resources are already stretched by the organisation, without the added burden of staging a play.
The host group may enter its own festival. It just chooses not to.
A maximum running-time of 45 minutes puts severe practical restrictions on what plays can be staged.
To clarify, the FEATS rules allow for a maximum of 55 minutes. Host groups can set different limits within the parameters laid down by the rules; and usually, for practical reasons, they set a maximum length of 45 or 50 minutes. As it is, criticisms have been expressed about the length of the evening’s programme.
The Chair closed the meeting after thanking AATG. Applause.