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Inclusive Theater of WNY provides a unique stage experience, one act at a time

Billboard for the One-Act Play Festival presented by Inclusive Theater of WNY
Inclusive Theater of WNY

When it comes to their mission the name says it all: Inclusive Theater of WNY. It exists for veteran and aspiring artists—writers, actors, directors— who seek the theater experience. That spirit will be on display when the "One Act Play Festival" takes the stage at St. Mary's High School in Lancaster,Aug. 4 through Aug. 7.

"So, we have people that this is the first time on stage and others that have been doing productions for 30 years," said Executive Director Aimee Levesque during a recent rehearsal.

"I think that's the fun part for us is to be able to, no matter how long it takes, get them to be able to get on the stage and perform."

The approach offers a unique opportunity for performers. While some may be acting on stage for the first time, experienced actors are learning what it's like to direct.

Then, there's the writing. A three-hour rehearsal showed off some adventurous, occasionally absurd dialogue. In one play, laundry serves as a metaphor; another offers a look inside a marriage counseling session that is often funny and frequently disturbing.

"I think what's cool about having local playwrights is that a lot of the content is also local," said Artistic Director Dallas Taylor, whose day job is here at Buffalo Toronto Public Media.

"So, people who come to the show, maybe they never met one of the actors, they don't know the directors, maybe they never heard of the company, but they come to the show and they know a connection because they live here in Buffalo."

Originally scheduled for January, the festival was postponed due to a COVID outbreak.

"We want people to come back into the theater, know it's not only a safe space, but a brave space," Levesque said.

"That is really important for us at Inclusive Theater, but also, that it's okay to laugh."

Eight plays will be presented:

- “Laundro’s Mismatched Plight” by Justin Pope. Directed by Dallas Taylor with Sarah Henderson.

- “Between Two Worlds” by Hilary Bluestein-Lyons. Directed by Virginia Brannon.

- “Pandemic Grief in the Marvel Cinematic Universe” by Justin Karcher. Directed by Aimee Levesque, Umar Azam, and Tyler Collis.

- “Paisley, Fire and Stone” by Ellen Scherer. Directed by Aimee Levesque, Umar Azam, and Tyler Collis.

- “Therapy” by George Bryjak. Directed by Maryna Sophia with Aimee Levesque.

- “Ronnie Audition Slayer” by Ellen Scherer and Madison Sedlor. Directed by Umar Azam and Tyler Collis with Aimee Levesque.

- “Kitty Litter” by J Snodgrass. Directed by Justin Chortie.

- “I Just Want to Be Held” by Justin Pope. Directed by Maryna Sophia

Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.