New festival ushers in one-act plays

A new festival on South Whidbey is offering a diversity in one-actor plays during the month of March

A new festival on South Whidbey is offering a diversity in one-actor plays during the month of March.

Island Shakespeare Festival and Whidbey Island Center for the Arts have teamed up to create the first-ever Whidbey Repertory Festival, a series of back-to-back shows that opens March 16 and runs through March 26 on the main stage at WICA in Langley.

Deana Duncan, executive artistic director for WICA, said she was formerly a member of the Nevada Repertory Theatre in Reno and Tahoe and has been wanting to bring this style of theater to Whidbey for the past 20 years.

“The idea is that we have rotating shows offered over several weeks allowing artists and audiences access to varied stories and storytelling in order to deepen our understanding of humanity,” she said. “We know that stories have the power to create empathy within us and over time can begin to change the way we see the world.”

The shows also have the added benefit of creating winter programming for Island Shakespeare Festival, which is usually at its busiest during the summer.

“I’m over the moon that we’re working together and creating a new space to do theater,” said Angelica Metcalfe, who is the operations director of Island Shakespeare Festival and the front-of-house manager for WICA.

The repertory style of theater is nothing new to Island Shakespeare Festival, which has been doing it successfully for years. The hope, Metcalfe explained, is to continue the Whidbey Repertory Festival beyond its first inaugural year.

“There’s so many artistic people in the community and it’s important, especially coming out of COVID, that we all come together,” she said.

By focusing on one-woman or one-man plays this year, the goal is to delve deeper into the human experience in these trying times.

“It’s fun to see someone have such a heavy line load,” Metcalfe said. “I think that’s one of the big questions we always get, ‘How do you memorize all those lines?’”

On opening night, WICA’s former Executive Director Vito Zingarelli will interview Duncan and Olena Hodges, artistic director for Island Shakespeare Festival, about their respective organizations, the state of American theater and what’s on their plates as theater leaders at this moment in time.

The first play on the schedule is “The Book of Sirens,” which was created by the Art Shelter/ProEnglish Theatre company in Kyiv, Ukraine. In March 2022, the theater company transformed their performance space into a bomb shelter when Russian forces began to invade Ukraine. As a result, “The Book of Sirens” has become an international symbol of cultural resistance. It premiered on April 9, 2022 in the shelter, and since then has been touring in Germany to raise awareness about the war in Ukraine.

The play is based on two different stories: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak and “Forgotten We Shall Be” by Héctor Abad Faciolince. Anabell Ramires plays the character Lisel in the one-woman show.

“The Book of Sirens” will be shown in a film format at WICA. Alex Borovenskiy, the artistic director of the production and the founder of ProEnglish Theatre, wants to be present via Zoom after each showing on Whidbey Island. Duncan said she has spoken with Borovenskiy about completing a residency in the U.S.

Showings are at 7:30 p.m. on March 16 and 23.

The other two plays in the Whidbey Repertory Festival are both live performances. The first, “I Am Playing Me,” is another one-woman show, in which Hannah Fontes, an actor from Flagstaff, Arizona, plays herself.

Fontes’ production explores the life of a twenty-something woman in 2023, from breakups with boys to body image issues. Fontes described the play as a mix of funny and sad moments from her real life, right down to her mother’s cancer diagnosis.

“It’s kind of walking the tightrope of acting,” she said of playing the role of herself. “It’s more kind of like just baring my soul to these people. I get pretty vulnerable in the show.”

“I Am Playing Me” originated as an assignment in college, when she was just 21.

“A lot of the stories have changed, but the idea of the show has remained intact,” Fontes said.

She describes the 45-minute play as cabaret-style, since she incorporates songs from other musicals. This is her first show in Washington state. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on March 17 and 25 and 2 p.m. on March 19.

The third play in the lineup, “Thoreau at Home,” invites the audience to take a closer look at the natural world.

Todd Jefferson Moore, an actor from Seattle, plays naturalist Henry David Thoreau in this one-man show directed by Richard E.T. White and written by the late Pacific Northwest poet David Wagoner.

Lesser known words from Thoreau’s journals combines with prose from Wagoner in this production, which has an intentionally simple set. After a successful run in Seattle, the play is now coming to WICA.

“We’re in the midst of a reckoning with our relationship with the natural world that is profound,” White said. “And Thoreau saw it coming, back in the 1830s.”

White and Moore see the play as a response to the ongoing global climate crisis.

“We have an imperative to think about how we can work with and restore the natural world,” White said.

There is also an interactive part of the play – at one point, an audience member will be welcomed on stage, and at the end, a community conversation will be held.

Performances for “Thoreau at Home” are at 7:30 p.m. on March 18 and 24 and 2 p.m. on March 26.

Single weekend passes are available for each weekend. For more info, visit the WICA website at For more info on Island Shakespeare Festival, visit

Photo by Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival and G’s Photos
Hannah Fontes as herself in “I Am Playing Me.”

Photo by Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival and G’s Photos Hannah Fontes as herself in “I Am Playing Me.”

Photo courtesy of 18th Union: An Arts Space
Todd Jefferson Moore as Henry David Thoreau in “Thoreau at Home.”

Photo courtesy of 18th Union: An Arts Space Todd Jefferson Moore as Henry David Thoreau in “Thoreau at Home.”