Last Chance New Play Fest: Altered State

Get a first look at new projects by Montana writers during festival, Nov. 4-13

On Stage

Helena’s ninth annual Last Chance New Play Fest, the longest running festival of its kind in Montana, showcases new projects by Montana writers Nov 4-13 at the Helena Avenue Theatre (aka The Hat).

Montana playwrights explore the theme “Altered State,” with 10-minute plays during this year's Last Chance New Play Fest.
Montana playwrights explore the theme “Altered State” with 10-minute plays during this year’s Last Chance New Play Fest.

Montana Short Cuts, a program of 10-minute plays, returns to the fest with “Altered State,” which explores how different authors across the state interpret the theme. This year’s plays feature such diverse topics as women’s rights, Shakespeare, a very unusual property, a visit to the vet, dementia, dream harvesting computers, and the choice between inspiration and desperation.

The lineup includes: Beautiful Day – Rebecca Ryland​; Before Act 5 – Steve Palmer​; Bobby and Dale – Bruce Hall;​ Fanny the Fox – Chantal Marie;​ Pantomime – Barry Stambaugh; Sweet Dreams are Made of This – Ross Peter Nelson​; and Tango with Torment – Lily Hoelscher.

Two additional projects are also part of the festival. The first is a full-length comedy, Charlotte, by Rebecca Ryland, pitting senility, prejudice, and sex against a case of stolen diamonds.

The other, Indy One-Acts, includes three short works: The Rodeo Clown explores one man’s road to becoming a rodeo performer (Steve Palmer, 30 minutes); Invisible Web combines dance and improv to address our connections to one another (Elucidance, 30 minutes); and The Beepis Show is comprised of short travel and observation videos (15 minutes).

This grassroots theatre event celebrates the works of local and regional playwrights, including Helena writers Chantal Marie, Bruce Hall, Barry Stambaugh, Ross Peter Nelson, Steven Palmer and Lily Hoelscher, and Rebecca Ryland of Clancy.

Tickets are $18 (adult) or $15 (student/senior) for individual performances or $30 for festival passes and are available online.

Rebecca Ryland is executive producer, 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 in Helena.

The Last Chance New Play Fest was inaugurated in 2015 by the Experimental Theatre Cooperative. In addition to showcasing new and recent work by Montana-affiliated writers, the festival 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.