Last Chance New Play Fest premieres new work

Eighth annual festival held Nov. 5-14 at the new Helena Avenue Theatre

On Stage

Helena’s Last Chance New Play Fest, now in its eighth year, will run Nov. 5-14, and features new projects by Montana writers. Montana Short Cuts, a program of ten-minute plays, returns to the festival with the theme “Anti/Social.”

Anti/Social is the theme of the eighth annual Last Chance New Play Fest.
Anti/Social is the theme of Montana Short Cuts, a program of 10-minute plays at the Last Chance New Play Fest.

The program explores how different authors across the state interpret the theme. This year’s plays feature a tale of surviving domestic abuse, discovering trust in neighbors, the value of hope, the companionship of cats, inter-species communication, political lobbying, and breaking free from solitude.

The lineup includes: Castles in the Sand by Rebecca Ryland; Chrysalis by Greg Younger; Killing Pollyanna by Pamela Mencher​; Mittens: An Operetta by Barry Stambaugh;​ The Heart is not Hidden, The Mind is Laid Bare by Steve Palmer; ​The Lobbyist by Ross Peter Nelson​; and The Sound Effect by Chantal Marie.

Other projects will be presented in a program called The Indys, which features three short independent projects: Palmer’s 15-minute Stagehand, a one-act comedy in which a stagehand gets the spotlight between acts; Rebecca Ryland’s 20-minute production, When Nana Hits the Glass, in which a spoiled child is forced to grow up; and new poetry by local writers in InSight.

Finally, the full-length film made during last year’s lockdown, “How to Poison …” by Nelson, will get an encore showing the second weekend of the festival. In it, two revolutionaries are reincarnated as cats and attempt to change the political status quo.

The Last Chance New Play Fest is a grassroots endeavor that celebrates the works of local and regional playwrights. This year’s festival will be presented at the city’s newest venue, The HAT, aka the Helena Avenue Theatre at 1319 Helena Ave.

Tickets for individual performances are $15 and are available at the door; $30 passes, which admit holders to any performance throughout the event, are available in advance at the Fire Tower Coffee House or at the door. Discounted tickets are available for students and seniors.

Rebecca Ryland is executive producer of the festival, and Steve Palmer and Ross Peter Nelson serve as associate producers. A list of all the projects, writers, and actors, along with the full schedule can be found online or in the Fest Guide, available at the Fire Tower Coffee House.

The festival was inaugurated in 2015 and serves as a showcase for new and recent work by Montana-affiliated writers and features the talents of some of the best actors, directors, and stage technicians in the Helena area. Follow the Fest on Facebook.

The Experimental Theatre Cooperative is the “experimental arm” of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the dramatic arts and supporting development and performance opportunities for theatre artists. For more information, visit ETC’s website.