Held in May every year, the RAFTA One Act Play Festival (OAPF) is organised by RAFTA exclusively for its member clubs. Of course, as the BBC would say, other festivals are available; there are many other drama festivals held across the UK each year, and our member clubs may enter as many of these as they wish and are able to do so. So why run a festival exclusively for RAFTA clubs? Well, any drama festival is a great place to watch lots of theatre, discover new plays and playwrights and pick up ideas (both of things to try and things not to try!) from other clubs/societies, performers, directors and technical/stage crew. Given that RAFTA aims to improve theatre in the RAF, we run our own Festival to ensure that every one of our clubs gets the chance to share in such an experience each year, and with peer clubs who understand the unique challenges faced by theatre clubs in the RAF. By kind permission of the relevant Station commander we hold the Festival on an RAF station or Defence establishment, giving our Festival a unique feel. And, of course, we always hold a fantastic party on the Saturday night!
The Festival is always held on one of the May bank holiday weekends. Participants (and other members, hangers-on, groupies, adoring fans…) generally begin arriving on the Friday afternoon. The Festival proper begins on the Saturday morning and culminates, after anywhere between 12 and 14 one-act plays, with an awards ceremony late on the Sunday afternoon. Always featuring a cracking party on the Saturday night, we leave Monday alone so that members can recover! Though the Festival is primarily about sharing a love for theatre and showcasing the talents of RAFTA’s clubs, there is also a competitive edge, with awards being made in an Oscar-type ceremony for the best production, actor, actress, director etc. Apart from the ‘Audience Award’ the judging is all done by a professional adjudicator from the Guild of Drama Adjudicators. These theatrically-knowledgeable individuals adjudicate at drama festivals across the UK and bring their wealth of experience with them to each RAFTA Festival: another great way to improve theatre in the RAF.
The RAFTA OAPF Rules & Conditions, which are applied at each Festival, are essential reading if you want to enter the Festival and you can see what awards are available at the Festival in the RAFTA OAPF Awards List. Lists of previous OAPF entrants and award-winners are in the process of being compiled. Perhaps you will add your name to these lists sometime soon? The details for the latest OAPF may be found by following the link from the navigation bar above.
The 31st RAFTA One Act Play Festival was held in 2011 at RAF Cranwell, near Sleaford in Lincolnshire. In the past the Festival has also been held at RAF Brize Norton, near Carterton in Oxfordshire and at RAF Lyneham near Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. During the first decade of the 21st century, the Festival alternated venue each year between Lyneham and Cranwell in order to ease the burden on any one host station and also balance out travelling time up and down the country. With Lyneham’s closure as an RAF station in 2012, the Festival remained at RAF Cranwell in 2012, 2013 and 2014, until RAF Cranwell were also unable to host the Festival. From 2015 the Festival will be held at The Charles Grace Theatre at the Defence Academy Shrivenham. The Committee will continue to hold a RAFTA Festival as long as a home for the Festival can be found!