Theatre and Dance Festival Kicks Off at NDNU Thursday

The 16th annual festival includes original plays by local artists, original films and documentaries, dance and poetry performances, art and more.


Belmont's (NDNU) will become an explosion of art and creativity later this week, as it prepares for its 16th annual

Opening this Thursday, Aug. 23, and running through Sept. 1, the festival provides myriad possibilities for lovers of the arts to immerse themselves in a little bit of everything - original plays by local artists, live poetry performances, graphic art, dance performances, original films and documentaries, and more.

"Sixteen years, and we're still learning," says NDNU's producer and artistic director of the festival, R. Dutch Fitz.

Fitz added, with the number of offerings being presented for the public's enjoyment, "This is one of our biggest years yet."

Fitz offered the following brief descriptions of some of the creations being featured in this year's festival.


  • Three original short films by student Johnny Villar, a young filmmaker whose inspirations harken back to the silent films of Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd. He has received awards at the College of San Mateo's 2011 and 2012 student film festivals, and has been shown at the International Youth Silent Film Festival in Portland, Oregon.
  • NDNU alumnus Karen Byrnes will be returning with a film of her 2010 original play, inspired by letters written by her pen pal, a Navy Corpsman with the Marines, in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968; followed by its companion film shot in May of 2011, where Karen met her pen pal after 43 years, for the first time, when he attended as the guest of honor with a panel of fellow veterans.
  • In collaboration with three other teachers, Karen Byrnes also directs two short plays by Joe Pintauro.
  • Mike Walsh joins us from the faculty of Canada College for the very clever, very short play about a life lived on Post-­its.
  • From Ohlone College, community education instructor and playwright, Michelle Motoyoshi, brings three of her original short but thought-provoking plays to NDNU.
  • Playwright Iris Kokish follows up a successful performance of her original play about the little-known world of championship professional women’s chess, most recently produced by the Faultline Theatre Co. at the Exit Theatre in San Francisco, with a one-time performance at the NDNU festival.
  • Travis Leland - actor/singer/playwright, with credits that include Theatreworks, Odyessy Theatre and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, and had his play “25 On The 405” performed in New York City at the Strawberry One-Act Festival - will premiere his newest play, about a flight that never lands, with two performances on our festival stage.
  • Another special treat will be three performances of author, acting coach, director, company founder and playwright, Becky Parker Geist’s one-­woman show - a personal tribute to her mother.
  • Alumnus Corey Page and friends return for one night, to once again share with us their delicious, insightful and streetwise poetry. Also, dancer alumnus Rebecca Fazio will treat our audiences to an aerial dance choreographed by Haylley Cooper for AXIOM, performed by the New Ground Theatre Dance Co. that kicked off the festival for the two weekends that began Aug. 10.
  • Art will also grace the walls of the theatre’s lobby, provided by local artists Sharon Bearce, Margaret Lindsay and Roberta Wentzel-­Walker, as well as being featured in a documentary film that follows the 70-year career of painter Char Pribus and the international organization called Paint Brush Diplomacy, which she co-­‐founded with her late husband and promotes and shares with the world the art of children from every nation and culture they could get access to, toward the dream of building bridges of international fellowship. 


No matter what, Fitz says, audiences of all ages and tastes are sure to find something they connect with at this year's Festival of Theatre and Dance.

"This year’s festival program's diverse yet cohesive offerings are sure to keep you thinking, feeling and entertained," he said. "Times may be hard out there, but the need to create and be expressive is thriving."  

All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and take place in the , 1500 Ralston Ave. in Belmont. Tickets are $10 each for general seating, and free for NDNU students. Festival organizers caution audiences that some performances may include adult language and situations.

For more information, contact R. Dutch Fitz at 650-508-3552 or RFDutchInc@aol.com, and visit the NDNU Theater and Dance page.

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