FEATS, the Festival of European Anglophone Theatrical Societies, is an annual competition between English-speaking amateur theatrical groups located in mainland Europe to see who can put on the best production.
It is also an opportunity for audiences to experience four evenings of first-class entertainment consisting of three one-act plays per evening. When the curtain goes up, the actors perform either published plays or original scripts. A time limit is imposed (minimum 25 min, maximum 50 min).
The performances take place under the critical eye of an invited adjudicator. He or she must be a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators. The adjudicator’s duty is to award points for each performance and provide constructive criticism afterwards. There are awards for first, second and third place, best actress and best actor, best stage presentation, stage management and best original script. There is also a discretionary award.
Over the years, we have seen some breathtaking and moving performances. Some of these plays have gone on to win at other festivals, and some original plays have later been published. It must remembered that everyone taking part is doing so “just for fun”.Everybody relishes the chance to take over a professional theatre for a while.
At a festival like this there is, of course, a lot of action backstage. The competing teams have only ten minutes to place their set, and only five minutes to strike it (take it down again) at the end of the play, leaving a bare stage for the next group. They have only two hours of practice during the day of their performance, which includes all of the technical preparation necessary for their production.
The festival is now in its 43rd year, having been founded in 1976 as a friendly regional contest between a few amateur theatre companies in the Benelux countries. Since then, it has grown into a four-day festival of international renown. In 1990, the Fringe event was added as a free daytime platform for a wide variety of entertainment, workshops and discussion forums.