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Hurry up and get to FAST*Fest

Michael (Beatsie) Rosen and Cheryl Kramer-Milder will portray Samuel and Irma in the County Seat Theater Company’s production of “A Little Something for the Ducks.” The show will be featured along with shows from 12 other theater companies during the Minnesota 20-minute play festival being held at the Encore Performing Arts Center in Cloquet on Saturday, Aug. 16. Contributed Photo

“FAST*Fest” isn’t exactly fast — it involves close to 12 hours of theater. Rather, the “fast” part relates to the 20-minute time of each individual show.

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The 20-minute play festival will go on all day Saturday at the Encore Performing Arts Center, home of the County Seat Theater Company, and everyone is invited.

County Seat General Manager Joel Soukkala said they have a record 13 theaters participating in this year’s event, and he’s hoping plenty of theater fans will take advantage of this unique opportunity as well.

“People often go to the Twin Cities for theater, so it will be a nice switch to get people coming up to Cloquet to see a show,” he said. “The neat thing about this is you’re going to get a number of different performances — comedy, drama, plus there’s a number of original works — even if you just go to one session,” he said, adding that it was an honor to be asked to host the festival.

Festival Director Larry Pint said FAST*Fest is a collaborative experience.

“After each performance there will be a short moderator-led colloquy where the audience can discuss what they thought ‘worked’ about the show and what they might have been done differently,” Pint said. “Much of the audience is made up of the members of the other performing companies, so it is generally a very receptive crowd. Many theater companies (and playwrights) use this festival to try out new material and get some constructive feedback.

Every production is limited to a minimal set, with only five minutes to set up, 20 minutes to perform, and five minutes to tear down.

Soukkala said the festival will be divided into three sessions Saturday. The morning session starts at 9 a.m. with a choice of two workshops followed by two performances starting at 10 a.m. The two later shows might be better for audience members: a 1 p.m. afternoon session will feature six shows while the evening session (which starts at 7 p.m.) boasts five shows. Tickets are $15 each per session or $35 for the entire day and can be purchased at the door. TJ's Wurst picnic will be available for lunch at the theater.

The companies participating range from children’s groups to very seasoned acting companies and hail from around the state — Twin Cities area, Rochester, Staples, Lakeville, Montgomery and Cloquet, of course. They will perform works by Shakespeare, Neil Simon, David Mamet, David Ives and even one called “That Gas Station in Cloquet” by Frank Lloyd (Jon) Skaalen during the afternoon session.

“The host community has the opportunity to get a different perspective on theatre through both the shorter format than they are probably used to and the interactive discussions,” Pint said.

For more information, call the County Seat Theater Company at 218-878-0071.

FAST*Fest Schedule

Saturday Morning Session

9 a.m. workshops (50 minutes - choose one)

- Working with children

- State grants for community theatres

10 a.m. Performances

“The Play's The Thing Productions” - Lakeville (FF)

“The Good Doctor” - Neil Simon

* * *

“MN SkyVault Theatre Company (Word Players)” - Rochester (FF)

“Shakespeare” - Shakespeare

Lunch on your own - 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday Afternoon Session

1 p.m. Performances                                

“Child's Play Theatre Company” - Montgomery (FF)

“Candid Stranded” - Andy Velishek

* * *

“Corcoran Park Players” - Minneapolis

“Audition 101” - Noreen Brandt

* * *

“County Seat Theatre Company” - Cloquet (FF)

“A Little Something for the Ducks” - Jean Lenox Toddie

“FungusAmongus Players” - Dassel-Cokato

“Lives of the Saints” - David Ives

* * *

“Ole Olson Onstage” - Stillwater (FF)

“That Gas Station in Cloquet” - Frank Lloyd (Jon) Skaalen

* * *

“It's About Time” - Montgomery (FF)

“Pleasant Acres” - John Grimm

Saturday Evening Session  

7 p.m. performances

“Pargeter Players” - Minneapolis

“Dead Bunnies Cooked with Passion” - Noreen Brandt

* * *

“Lamplighter Community Theatre” - Staples (FF)

“Poverty: What's Your Baggage” - Lamplighter Theatre

* * *

“Sweet Charities” - Minneapolis

“An Interview” - Avid Mamet

* * *

“Applause Community Theatre” - Lakeville (FF)

“Bird Icon” - Jim Lundy

* * *

“Powderhorn Theatre Arts” - Minneapolis

“Alien Potluck” - Noreen Brandt