American Association of Community Theatres brings four troupes to town this weekend

Four groups of thespians will converge on Forest Grove this Saturday for a one-act-play festival and statewide competition hosted by Theatre in the Grove.

Called AACTFest — after the American Association of Community Theatres — the event will bring together dozens of hopeful thespians who'll try to out-act one another.

The curtain is set to go up at 3:15 p.m. with Hood River's Columbia Arts State Troupe performing "Dead Man's Apartment." Three other groups — from Beaverton, Tualatin and Milwaukie — will follow suit, playing to a panel of judges.

All performances will be on the TITG stage, 2028 Pacific Ave. and cost $5 per troupe.

"We hope to draw a good crowd," said Jeff Zimmerman of Forest Grove, who sits on the board of directors at TITG and the Oregon Community Theatre Alliance in McMinnville. "We even hope to pull some professionals out from Portland to see the performances of these groups."

Theater fans may view the one-acts but must comply with closed-house rules, Zimmerman noted. Each play will be a maximum of 60 minutes long.

Second in the lineup will be the New Century Players from Milwaukie, performing "Trifles" at approximately 4:30 p.m. Third is the Lumiere Players of Tualatin, performing "The Legend of Jimmy Blue Eyes" at about 7 p.m.; and last is Beaverton Civic Theatre, performing a scene from "The Miracle Worker" at 8:15 p.m.

Judges consider the acting, visual effects, lighting, costumes and musical accompaniment, Zimmerman said.

The winner will go on to a regional contest March 29-30 in Richmond, Wash. Winners at regionals will advance to a national competition June 17-23 in Carmel, Ind.

This is the first time Forest Grove has hosted AACTFest. The last locally-sited competition occurred in 2009 in McMinnville.

Zimmerman indicated the weekend promises to give the un-indoctrinated a peek behind the proverbial curtain.

"We're not just all business," he said. "We're about education, too."

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