AACTFest 2021: Overview | AACT

AACTFest 2021: Overview

Celebrating Resilience, Strengthening Resolve
Virtual AACTFest 2021, June 14 – 20

Virtual AACTFest 2021 logoFor the past year, community theatres around the country have had to make difficult decisions due to the pressures and restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, functioning in survival mode.  

But theatre is resilient, and companies around the country are pivoting, redefining, and reimagining who they are, and how they will continue to serve their communities now and into a post-pandemic future.

AACTFest 2021 will celebrate those stories of resiliency, moving you from survive to thrive, as it showcases and celebrates the best of community theatre in America.  Keynotes, workshops, educational programming, and special events will focus on supporting you through this evolutionary journey.

Plan now to join us for an exciting week in June, including:

  • Theatre from around the country—12 Show Performances and Adjudications
  • Workshops/training courses from theatre professionals around the country—in all, over 50 educational events, workshops, roundtables to help move you into the new season
  • Keynotes and special guests, including Chilina Kennedy (star of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, on Broadway), Phil Hernandez (Javert in the original New York production of Les Misérables), director Jeff Calhoun (Tony nominee for Disney’s Newsies, Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre Award for Deaf West Theater’s Big River), and more to come.
  • Celebrity guest appearances
  • Design Competition and Adjudications
  • Monologue Competition Finals and Adjudications
  • Online social networking, events and games
  • Virtual booths, exhibits, and industry demos
  • Festival Award Ceremony
  • Access to post-festival content.

The virtual national festival will run June 14 – 20, 2021. Registration is open now!

“We are particularly excited about the possibilities the festival offers to those who could not attend national festivals in years past, due to the cost of travel and accommodations,” says AACT Executive Director Quiana Clark-Roland. “Virtual AACTFest 2021 is about illuminating and celebrating the power of art, artistic excellence, and most importantly, the value of community theatre in the country.  I am so proud that we can expand on that message, and share the art of community theatre to the world!”

Twelve Virtual AACTFest 2021 National Company productions will be streamed during the week of the festival. Eleven of these will be selected from applications from 38 theatres around the country. A twelfth production will be presented from AACT Region X, which represents community theatres on U.S. military bases in Europe. More here.

Colvin Theatricals, a professional video production crew, will travel to the selected AACTFest 2021 National Companies, and record productions to be presented during Virtual AACTFest. They will shoot each show on four professional Blackmagic cinema cameras, with a mixture of close-ups, wide angles and moving shots. Using live-editing and broadcasting technology, each performance video will emulate the theatrical experience each finalist would have at an in-person AACTFest, while maintaining professional, high-quality cinematic standards. Colvin has produced theatrical videos with artists all over the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have helped theatres and other live-performance organizations produce digital livestreams that reach audiences dozens of times the size of their pre-pandemic houses. AACT is excited to work with Colvin Theatricals to create an exciting, stimulating, festival experience, while providing a blueprint for community theatres to take advantage of these new technologies, and grow their digital audiences.

Broadway on Demand will broadcast the performances during festival week. Broadway On Demand, considered the premier streaming platform, offering exclusive livestream events, and a wide-ranging library of video on demand content, offers AACTFest attendees two ways to view festival performances:

  1. Aired at a specific show time, to watch and enjoy with other festival attendees.
  2. Attendees will also receive a one-time private, on-demand link to view shows at their convenience

AACT will be utilizing the Whova laptop/mobile app to keep you abreast of all activities during Virtual AACTFest 2021. This full-featured app will be available two weeks prior to the festival, so you can check out all events, and set your schedule accordingly.  Registrants will be sent an invitation to the app as soon as it goes live.

Keynote Speakers throughout the week will share their experiences as performers and theatre makers. Chilina Kennedy,  Phil Hernandez and Jeff Calhoun are already scheduled. Check our Keynoters page for additional speakers, as they are confirmed.

Educational Workshops. Among the over 60 events planned for AACTFest 2021 are workshops and panels aimed at what we need most—revitalization. Reflecting the current global health crisis, with many performing arts organizations temporarily closed, workshops will include topics related to COVID-19 recovery, including outreach, reinventing productions, audience safety, and communications. There also will be a well-rounded roster of workshops for directors, actors, designers, administrators, educators, and marketers. Learn new technological advances, and participate in forums addressing inclusion, diversity, and accessibility, as well as other challenges brought into sharp focus in the past year.  Check back for a listing of workshops, coming soon.

Providing theatres and designers an opportunity to shine, the 2021 Virtual Design CompetitionBest of the Decade! will showcase the best of community theatre creativity. AACT-member theatres and their designers may enter projects occurring between July 1, 2011 and May 1, 2021, in any of five design categories, including Scenic, Lighting, Properties, Costume, and Special Design, and  An official entry form must be submitted online for each design entry by May 1, 2021, along with an entry fee of $20. More information here.

Anyone registering for the festival can enter the AACTFest add-on Monologue Competition at the same time. Attendees will submit a video recording of their monologue for adjudication and feedback. The festival adjudicator will then select 10 finalists from the preliminary rounds to perform in the virtual Monologue Competition Finals.  Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners. More information here.

The festival will also include an online Exhibit Hall through the Whova festival app, allowing attendees to network with theatre vendors for answers to theatre-related questions. The AACTFest Virtual Exhibit Hall will allow vendors to explain who they are and what they do, demonstrate their products and services through video and live-streams, and speak one-on-one with interested attendees. Vendors: Check here for more information.

The AACT Silent Auction will benefit the AACT Endowment Festival Support Fund, and the 12 companies participating in the national Virtual AACTFest 2021. Auction items can be viewed and purchased online, even for those not registered for Virtual AACTFest 2021. Item donations are currently being accepted—see the Silent Auction page for more information.

All good things come to an end, and festival week concludes with the AACTFest 2021 Awards Ceremony, honoring the productions presented during the festival, and the actors, directors, designers and crew who participated.

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