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Finger Lakes Photo/Plays

What happens when you bring together a local photograph by a local photographer and local professional and community theatre artists?


Brand new plays in a night and a day!

Registration is live!

 Saturday February 3, 2024: The Reveal (3-5 pm)

Sunday February 4, 2024: Rehearsals and Performance (9am-10pm, performance at 7:30 pm)

Scroll down for Details and Frequently Asked Questions.

We are thrilled to announce our 2024 Photographer: July Winters!

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July Winters Headshot
Playwritng Workshop

Join us!


Pop-Up Pages: Playwriting Workshop


Thanks to everyone who joined us for our recent Pop-Up Pages Playwriting Workshop on December 14, 2023! There are currently no additional workshops scheduled.

Previous Years

Photo/Plays Galleries

Check out our previous Finger Lakes Photo/Plays productions at The Smith Opera House: 2015, 2017, 2018*, and 2023! 

*In 2019 we created Celebrate THE Smith: An Immersive Theatre Event for the 125th anniversary of The Smith Opera House. This was an expanded, week-long variation of Photo/Plays, inspired by historical artifacts rather than a single photo. Click here for photos of this event.

2015 Photographer: Jan Regan

2017 Photographer: Kathy Collins

2018 Photographer: Kevin Colton

2023 Photographer: Gary Ventura

Details & Logistcs

How does this work?


The inspiration: A local photographer selects one photograph from their collection that features a local Finger Lakes site. This photo will be the inspiration for our playwrights. Imagine 6, 7, 8…wildly different plays all inspired by the same photograph! Stay tuned to learn who our next photographer will be! Have a suggestion for a photographer? Send us an email (!


The players: Finger Lakes community members! Would you like to make some new friends and some new art? Have you been itching to get involved in theatre but know how much time it takes so you've resisted? Are you a seasoned theatre veteran who has wanted to flex your artistic muscles in a new way? Are you brand new to all of this and looking for a low stakes way to get involved in performance? Are you staying put in the audience and just want to come out and support us? Then there is a role for YOU in Photo/Plays! [Please note: Photo/Plays may not be suitable for young audiences or participants. Given the possibility of strong language and adult situations, participation is limited to those who are 18 or older.]


Participants will rank their preferences for these roles:


  • The Playwright—These folks will receive a copy of the photograph on Saturday evening, lock themselves in their garret with their quills and candles and craft a short play (ten minutes or less), tailored to the actors in their group and inspired by the photo.


  • The Director—On Sunday morning (early!), the Playwrights submit their scripts. Directors spend the early morning figuring out their directorial concept for the play (in other words, how do you take these words and bring them to life on stage?). Then, the Director goes into rehearsal with the Actors.


  • The Actors—How fast can you get into character? You'll get that script Sunday morning and be taking your curtain call Sunday night! (Don't worry, these are SHORT plays, you can do it!) No memorization necessary! We perform these as heavily staged readings with our scripts in our hands!


  • The Stage Managers—Are you super organized and patient? Would you like to be involved on the logistical end of things, helping directors track down simple props and costume pieces and helping with cues and scene changes?


Once registration closes, you will be assigned a role (Playwright, Director, Actor, Stage Manager). While we try to place people in their first or second choice, sometimes that's just not possible. Over the years we have learned we especially need DIRECTORS! More Directors means more Playwrights, which means juicier roles for our Actors! Could this be the year you say, "But what I really want to do is direct!" ???

The Timeline: A night and a day of theatrical commotion culminating in a public performance for the local community. (Please note: Participants must be available for both days.)


  • Saturday [February 3, 2024], 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.: The Reveal —We will gather in the Smith Opera House. We’ll draw teams at random, find out where you are rehearsing, and get the first glimpse of the photo. Each writer will be given access to the photograph to use as inspiration while they write. Each team will have a Playwright, Director, Stage Manager, and set of Actors.


  • Saturday Night—Playwrights write while the rest of us slumber...


  • Sunday [February 4, 2024] by 5:00 a.m.—Playwrights submit their scripts.


  • Sunday morning by 9:00 a.m.—Directors devise their approach to the script and Actors arrive.


  • Sunday morning through afternoon (beginning at 9:00 a.m.)—Rehearsal with Directors, Actors, and Stage Managers throughout the Smith Opera House (on the stage, in the lobby, on the mezzanine, in the dance studio…wherever we can find a corner of space!).


  • Sunday 7:30 p.m.—Opening (and closing!) Night! We'll reconvene for a 7:30 p.m. performance on the stage of the Opera House. The performance will be open to the public with donations going directly to the Smith Center for the Arts.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do I need to rank my preferences? I wish we could give everyone their first choice! Unfortunately, people's choices rarely balance out. For example, we often have LOTS of people who want to be playwrights. We can only select a maximum of 8 playwrights because of our limited rehearsal spaces in the opera house and to keep the performance to a reasonable time frame. But 8 playwrights means we need 8 directors...and we rarely have that many people who rank director as their first choice.  

  • Do I need to rank my preferences if I'm only interested in one role? Yes, please. Collaboration, coming together with a common goal, supporting a cherished arts institution, meeting new theatre artists, and celebrating the work of a local photographer are the main goals of this event. We are going to make some amazing theatre together! Didn't get your first choice this year but gamely join in anyway with your second or third choice? Then we'll keep that stellar collaborative spirit in mind for next year and do everything we can to place you in your first choice then! We have had great success in placing folks in their first or second choice . If we find we need to shift to someone's third choice, we always communicate with them directly to make sure it's a role they are comfortable taking on! (And the only reason we have you rank all four options is because of how the online form is designed. No one will be placed in their fourth choice!) For technical theatre folks who rank Stage Manager as their first choice: we ALWAYS need Stage Managers and have never asked someone who ranked Stage Manager first to do something else instead.

  • Can I do two roles? Yes! If you land a Playwright role, you may also then serve as a Director, Stage Manager, or Actor for someone else's play! Might want to brew a little extra coffee on Sunday morning though, because that will be a very long day after writing overnight! Directors should not act in the piece they are directing.

  • Can I pick my own team or choose who I want to work with in advance? Nope! We will draw teams at random at "The Reveal." You will know before you arrive whether you are a Stage Manager, Director, Actor, or Playwright. But we pull names from bowls to form the teams.

  • When do I need to be at The Smith? All participants must be at The Smith on Saturday [February 3, 2024] from 3:00p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Everyone must also be at The Smith on Sunday [February 4, 2023] from 9:00 a.m. until the performance finishes and we have finished cleaning up (approximately 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., depending on how many short plays we have). Playwrights may not necessarily need to be there all day on Sunday. Please read below for specifics.

  • If I can't be there for the entire time, can I still participate? Unfortunately, no. But we try to do this every year and there are SO MANY wonderful theatre opportunities in the Finger Lakes and Rochester region so hopefully you can find one that fits with your availability!

  • Do Playwrights need to be there all day Sunday if they are NOT taking on a second role as Director, Actor, or Stage Manager? Not necessarily. We strongly encourage the Playwrights to sit in on rehearsals in the afternoon but we understand you may need to sleep during the morning if you were up all night. Everyone must be at The Smith by 6:30 on Sunday evening for a company photo.

  • Do I need to memorize the script in a day? No! We tried that initially and found that the event was not accessible to as many performers that way. All performances are done with scripts in hand! You will know the text very well and we will find creative ways to integrate the pages so they don't stand out too much. Plus, this is much better for the playwrights because ALL of their words get performed this way!

  • If I do memorize fully do I still have to carry the script? Yes. When everyone carries a script, we create continuity across the productions (and help keep the audience focused on the theatrical storytelling rather than wondering, "hey, why is that human memorized when no one else is?").

  • What will be available in terms of design and tech? Each play will have access to two tables and four chairs. Anything else will be up to Directors, Stage Managers, and Actors to coordinate and bring in. There will be no special lighting effects. Lights will come up at the beginning of your play and come down at the end. Then there will be a curtain call light and the Director, Playwright, and Stage Manager will join their cast in the curtain call. There will be no sound effects or music. There will be no microphones so Actors will need to project (you can do it! There have been LOTS of performances in that space that did not use mics!).

  • Are you feeding us? We will provide pizza for lunch on Sunday. Please bring your own beverages and snacks. You will be on your own for dinner on Sunday as we will schedule dinner breaks during the "tech" process.

Sign me up!

Interested in getting involved? Register here! 


[Please note: Photo/Plays may not be suitable for young audiences or participants. Given the possibility of strong language and adult situations, participation is limited to those 18 and older.]



Email Photo/Plays Creator and Producer, Chris Woodworth (

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