Whether you're a thespian, theatre geek or just have a general appreciation for the arts, you certainly must be aware that you aren't alone in Hamilton County. And come June 17-23, you will be in fine company as the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) arrives with a fabulous flourish to the Center for the Performing Arts for the AACTFest 2013 National Festival.

The AACT links more than 7,000 theaters across the country, and the festival is expected to bring more than 400 people representing those theaters to Carmel for a week dedicated to their art. And that is what they are: dedicated. Everyone likes to compare how busy they are, but try adding rehearsals and performances into your schedule like these people do! AACT members are people who have, for whatever reason, chosen to not make theatre their living, but an all-consuming hobby of sorts that feeds on others' hobbies of viewing theatre. What a wonderful relationship!

The festival is a chance for these artsy, dramatic folks to get together and socialize with, learn from and perform for each other. Certainly attendees will gather for workshops, meetings, and the like, but the awesome part surely will be the performances. Which, according to June Clair, who co-chairs the event with her husband John, will be judged and open to the public. Holla! The public can see the schedule and can order tickets by going to the Center for the Performing Arts website.

"It is exciting in that these 12 theater companies that will be performing have won both state and regional competitions in order to get to the national event," June says. "Also, there are very stringent rules for the performances - the shows cannot be more than an hour in length, so they don't do the whole show - it's more of a cutting of the show. If the group goes over, they are docked points. Each show is judged, and at the end of the event, there is an awards ceremony with 16 awards given out. It's the community theater equivalent of the Oscars."

While I certainly plan on attending a performance or two, I think it will be fun to just hang out in downtown Carmel carrying a Remains of the Day lunchbox and wearing a Corky St. Clair name tag and absorbing the scene.
Oh, and in case you missed the references above, do yourself a favor and watch Waiting for Guffman, a loving and hilarious parody of community theatre that June identifies with on, um, some level. "There is truth in it," she says, "Because that company of actors is quite familiar with the world of theater. One could say there's always a lot of drama behind the drama."

Indeed! And I can't wait to witness it!