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FusionFest returns Sept. 21 with ‘incredibly different’ twist

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Now in its sixth year, the 24-hour play festival FusionFest will once again open the Monmouth College theatre season, once again featuring a series of student-written and student-performed 10-minute plays.

But in a new twist, the action in FusionFest VI on Sept. 21 will be viewed by an audience seated on the street. The 7:30 p.m. performances will be staged in the storefront windows of the downtown Fusion Theatre, 230 S. Main St., rather than on its regular black box stage.

Monmouth theatre professor Vanessa Campagna said there are several benefits to storefront theatre.

“Storefront theatre is broadly defined, but some qualities of storefront theatre are theatres that do experimental work – FusionFest constitutes that with brand new 10-minute plays,” said Campagna. “Storefront theatres tend to engage the community. Fusion Theatre constitutes that. It’s called ‘Fusion Theatre’ because it fuses the campus with the local community” through its off-campus location.

The plays are different, too, as they currently don’t exist. On the evening of Sept. 20, a group of student playwrights will participate in a blind drawing from a pool of directors and actors, as well as for a phrase that must be used in their new work. They will have 12 hours to write their short plays, and the directors and teams of actors they draw will then have 12 hours to rehearse the plays.

“Storefront theatres are experimental,” said Campagna. “We wanted to capitalize on that experimental element and put these plays in the windows. We’ll have chairs set up in the street. Our business neighbors have been so kind and supportive. It’ll draw people down to see it, simply because the way it’s being produced is incredibly different this year.”

Tickets, which are not part of the season-ticket package to College productions, are available for $5 each at