SEMBACH, Germany – Theater programs from U.S. Army Garrisons Ansbach and Wiesbaden won top prizes Oct. 9 at the 27th One-Act Play Festival and YouthFEST ’22.
Led by Installation Management Command Europe’s G9 Army Entertainment, the event brought together community theaters from across Europe at USAG Ansbach’s Terrace Playhouse.
A panel of professional referees selected the USAG Ansbach Terrace Playhouse the youth production of DM Larson’s “Death Takes the Train” as an Outstanding YouthFEST Show. USAG Wiesbaden’s Amelia Earhart Playhouse the one-act play, “Medea” by Christopher Durang, was named best one-act play.
Both Garrison Theater programs will have the opportunity to represent the U.S. Army and Army Entertainment at the 2023 American Association of Community Theater National Play Festival and Youth Festival, to be held in June 2023, in Louisville, Kentucky.
“US Army Entertainment Programs, as AACT Region X, have participated in the National Festival since 1997,” said Dane Winters, IMCOM Europe Entertainment Program Manager. “Our shows have consistently done very well at national festivals, winning multiple awards and bringing our program great national attention.”
It was the first time that the festival took place in the municipality of Ansbach. Ansbach and the theater staff did a terrific job hosting the festival, Winters said.
Victoria Hanrahan, Director of Ansbach Entertainment, appreciated the opportunity to host the annual event. “It was great to show off our facilities, our program and our garrison,” she said.
USAG Ansbach’s senior senior military enlisted leader, 1st Sgt. Maurice S. Hendrixson, sold out on October 7. “It is a real pleasure to host this annual event in our garrison,” he said.
Army entertainment programs from Vicenza, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern, SHAPE and Ansbach took part in the festival, as well as an Air Force theater group from Ramstein.
The festival featured seven one-act plays in a one-act competition and two youth productions as part of YouthFEST ’22.
“YouthFEST productions are shows selected, produced, directed and performed by youth 18 and under in our military communities,” Winters said.
The weekend also included a stand-up competition and 14 theatrical skills workshops, including stage combat, acting, singing, auditioning, dancing and others.
Since 1995, Army Europe Entertainment has produced this festival every year on Columbus Day weekend.
“We are producing the festival to first recognize and honor outstanding theatrical achievement in U.S. Army entertainment programs throughout Europe,” Winters said. “There is really remarkable theater in the programs.
The festival’s educational opportunities are designed to enhance the resilience and preparedness of soldiers, civilians, and family members in our community.
“Workshops and feedback from professional theater artists help them hone and develop their personal and personal skills while working with program participants from across Europe,” Winters said. “The festival is also a way for us to thank the many community members who donate thousands of hours of volunteer time to organize live theater events in their communities.
The festival ended with a surprise-filled awards show on Sunday at the Von Steuben Community Center.
USAG Ansbach Commander Col. Aaron B. Dixon greeted the crowd and helped present prizes.
IMCOM Europe Command Sgt. Major Christopher D. Truchon, also welcomed attendees and thanked Dixon for hosting the historic festival.
“This festival is part of the rich tradition of army shows,” said Truchon. “Our military communities are better places to live because of the opportunities our Army entertainment programs provide to soldiers, civilians, retirees and their families.”
The crowd was also greeted by a surprise appearance from multiple Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In a pre-recorded video, Miranda thanked Army Entertainment staff for supporting their garrison communities. He also had a special message for the young people at the festival.
“Theatre and performance are extremely important for young people. It was for me,” he said. “I’m thrilled that Army Entertainment organized YouthFEST for the kids to hone their skills and show off their talents while having fun together. Along the way, they’re strengthening trust; learning to work together; helping each other; and hopefully realizing that they are special and unique. Because they are!”
At the awards ceremony, US Army IMCOM Europe Entertainment was presented with an AACT National Spotlight Award by AACT Executive Director Quiana Clark-Roland.
“This honor is in recognition not only of the staff’s support of their communities,” said Clark-Roland, “but also of their dedication to exceptional and innovative international theater.”
Full festival information, award results and official photos can be found at: US Army IMCOM Europe Entertainment One Act Play Festival and YouthFEST ’22.