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2018 Finger Lakes Photo / Plays

Saturday, February 24 at 7:30 PM
Smith Opera House

In 2001, the Actors Theatre of Louisville gave a group of playwrights a copy of Lee Friedlander’s photograph ‘Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, 1969,’ and challenged them to write a play. The result was Snapshot, a collection of fascinating, funny, (and a little bit bizarre) plays by some of today’s best writers. “Finger Lakes Photo/Plays” draws on the model set up by the Actors Theatre using a local photograph by a local photographer and local professional and community theatre artists. There is one twist, however: all of this will happen in a day and a night. After the roaring success of the last two years of “Finger Lakes Photo /Plays,” the Smith Center for the Arts is thrilled to bring back the event for 2018! Finger Lakes Photo / Plays will be produced February 23-24, 2018 as a fundraiser for the Smith Center for Arts. All stages of the event will be held within the Smith Opera House in Geneva.

The inspiration: A local photographer will select one photograph from their collection that features people at a local site. This photo will be the inspiration for our writers. We are pleased to announce that award-winner Kevin Colton ( is the 2018 Photo/Plays photographer!

The players: Finger Lakes community members! Would you like to make some new friends and some new art? Have you been itching to get involved in theatre but know how much time it takes so you’ve resisted? Are you a seasoned theatre veteran who has wanted to flex your artistic muscles in a new way? Are you brand new to “the boards” and looking for a low stakes way to get involved in performance? Are you staying put in the audience and just want to come out and support us? Then there is a role for YOU in Photo/Plays! [Please note: Photo/Plays may not be suitable for young audiences or participants. Given the possibility of strong language and adult situations, participation is limited to those who are 18 or older.]

Participants will sign up for one of these roles to be placed on a team:

  • The Writer—These folks will take the photograph on Friday evening, lock themselves in their garret with their quills and candles and craft a short play (ten minutes or so), bearing in mind the actors in their group.
  • The Director—On Saturday morning, the Writers hand their scripts to their Directors who spend the early morning figuring out their directorial concept for the play (in other words, how do you take these words and bring them to life on stage?). Then, the Director goes into rehearsal with the actors.
  • The Actors—How fast can you get into character? You’ll get that script Saturday morning and be taking your curtain call Saturday night! (Don’t worry, these are SHORT plays, you can do it!) No memorization necessary!
  • The Stage Managers—Are you super organized and patient? Would you like to be involved on the logistical end of things, helping directors track down simple props and costume pieces and helping with sound cues and scene changes?

The Timeline: A day and a night of theatrical commotion culminating in a public performance for the local community.

  • Friday February 23, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.: The Reveal —We will gather in the Smith Opera House. You’ll meet your team, find out where you are rehearsing, and get the first glimpse of the photo. Each writer will borrow a print of the photograph to use as inspiration while they write.
  • Friday Night—Writers write while the rest of us slumber…
  • Saturday February 24, 2018 at 8:00 a.m.—Writers hand their scripts over to the directors
  • Saturday morning—Directors devise their approach to the script and bring in their actors
  • Saturday morning through afternoon (beginning at 9:00 a.m.)—Rehearsal with directors, actors, and stage managers throughout the Smith Opera House (on the stage, in the lobby, on the mezzanine, in the dance studio…wherever we can find a corner of space!).
  • Saturday 7:30 p.m.—Opening (and closing!) Night! We’ll reconvene for a 7:30 p.m. performance on the stage of the Opera House. The performance will be open to the public with a suggested donation of $5.00 to go directly to the Smith Center for the Arts. Additionally, audience members and participants will have an opportunity to purchase prints of the photograph that inspired the event. Proceeds from the sales of these images will also be donated to the Smith Center for the Arts.

Sign me up! Interested in getting involved? Then fill out our online form by Wednesday February 18, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. Please note: Photo/Plays may not be suitable for young audiences or participants. Given the possibility of strong language and adult situations, participation is limited to those 18 and older.

Questions? Email Chris Woodworth, at