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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!

Save the Date: Saturday February 4, 2023 and Sunday February 5, 2023

2023 Photographer: Gary Ventura

Smith Opera House

Geneva, NY

Registration is live! Register here!

Playwritng Workshop



Pop-Up Pages: Playwriting Workshop

(Click here to register.)

Wednesday January 25, 2023

7:00-9:00 p.m.

Smith Opera House Lobby


Looking to keep your drama on the stage? Join us for a *FREE* Pop-Up Playwriting Workshop ahead of Finger Lakes Photo/Plays 2023. The workshop will be held on Wednesday January 25, 2023, from 7:00 until 9:00 p.m. in the lobby of the Smith Opera House (82 Seneca St., Geneva, NY). You do not need to participate in Photo/Plays to join this workshop (but we hope you will!). Even if you did not select Playwright as one of your top choices, you are welcome to participate in the workshop. Chris Woodworth (Finger Lakes Photo/Plays Creator and Producer) will lead participants through a series of low-stakes writing exercises. No playwriting or theatre experience necessary! Bring a notebook, pen, and your imagination!

Pre-registration is encouraged for

Pop-Up Pages: Playwriting Workshop.

Register here.

Previous Years

Photo/Plays Galleries

Following successful productions in 2015, 2017, and 2018*, “Finger Lakes Photo / Plays” returns to the Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY February 4-5, 2023. Ready to come play with us? Online registration is live!

*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

Details & Logistcs

How does this work?

The inspiration: A local photographer will select 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! We are thrilled to announce that Gary Ventura will be the 2023 Photo/Plays photographer! You can check out his work here:


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 4, 2023, 5:00 to 7:00 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 5, 2023 by 8:00 a.m.—Playwrights hand their scripts over to the directors.


  • 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 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!)

  • 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 4, 2023 from 5:00p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Everyone must also be at The Smith on Sunday February 5, 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.

  • What will be available in terms of design and tech? Each play will have access to two folding 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? Our online registration is live now and must be completed by Wednesday February 1, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. 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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