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Exclusive: David Dean Bottrell Talks Sci-Fest, Opening May 6

By Jamie Ruby

David Dean BottrellThis May a brand new science fiction event will be happening on the west coast: Sci-Fest, the 1st annual Los Angeles science fiction one-act play festival. The festival will showcase interesting stories and great sci-fi talent that you have come to know over the years.

The idea for the festival came from Sci-Fest Producer David Dean Bottrell, who many will know from his role as Lincoln Meyer on season three of Boston Legal, or from one of his many other guest appearances on series such as Mad Men, NCIS, True Blood, Days of Our Lives, and Castle, just to name a few, or from his critically-acclaimed one-man shows or other theater work.

Bottrell recently sat down with SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview to talk about Sci-Fest, which will come to fruition in May.

David Dean Bottrell
Sci-Fest has been in the works for a while now. According to Bottrell, "About two years ago, I accidentally happened onto Ursula LeGuin's short story, The Wife's Story, and I loved it. My first thought was, "This would make an incredible stage monologue." I then started wondering what else might be out there. That's where the idea of creating a festival of short sci-fi one-act plays came from.

"It took me two years to work up my guts, but last April I woke up and said to myself, "It's time to try it." I called my friend Lee Costello, and she came onboard as my co-producer. Mike Blaha joined us two months later. Unbelievably we pulled it off."

The process really began with the submissions. "It all begins with the material. We started putting word out and received almost 400 submissions. Slowly we narrowed it down to the 9 short plays we are producing.

"... Probably the hardest part was deciding which plays to produce. In many cases it had to do with subject matter. Sometimes the question was "Which of these is the best time travel play?" Which is the best android play?" We are definitely hoping to make Sci-Fest an annual event. Very soon we will be opening up for submissions for next year's festival."

The material was good so it was easy to get some well-known names on board. "The quality of the scripts is terrific, so we started reaching out to well-known sci-fi actors. Actors respond to good material. We are thrilled with the amazing line up of actors who [have] signed up. It's really incredible. The Kickstarter campaign was scary because we set a pretty high budget goal, but we made it! The fans of sci-fi wanted it and they made it happen."

The show is comprised of nine one-act plays. "All of us on the producing team were all fans of the old Twilight Zone TV series. The stories were so varied and compelling. We loved the idea of creating a festival where we could visit all the different genres that are collectively known as sci-fi. We're really proud of how different all the one-acts are.

"...I think everybody can expect the unexpected. We have been incredibly lucky to attract some wonderful directors, and the design team is terrific.

"Theatre is a different beast than television and film. It's a medium that engages people's minds and their imaginations. The festival will be about transporting you to other worlds using those tools."

Bottrell talked some specifics about the one-act plays that will be performed at Sci-Fest. "Seven of the nine one-acts are original pieces, each unique in style and content. The other two plays are by sci-fi icons. One is a stage adaptation of the Ursula LeGuin short story I mentioned earlier. The other is a revival, a remarkable one-act play by Ray Bradbury called Kaleidoscope. It's a beautiful, moving piece about seven astronauts stranded in deep space with no hope of rescue.

"Many of the plays feature fantastic actors from iconic sci-fi franchises. Some of the actors scheduled to appear include: Nelson Ascencio (The Hunger Games, Mad TV), David Blue (Stargate: Universe), L. Scott Caldwell (Lost), Dean Haglund (The X-Files), James Kyson (Heroes), David H. Lawrence, XVII (Heroes), Madison McLaughlin (Supernatural), Julie McNiven (Stargate: Universe, Supernatural), Jasika Nicole (Fringe), Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager), Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5). Plus [there is] a pre-recorded appearance by Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena: Warrior Princess)."

Also during the event there are three late night comedy shows. "We are lucky enough to have some extremely funny people working on the festival. The idea of a late night series just sort of organically sprang up. Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons) is directing one of the main stage plays and has co-written one of the late night comedy shows.

Adrienne Wilkinson
"Also on the late-night bill are performances of Dean Haglund's one-man X-Files show and Dan O'Connor's very funny improv show Twilight Zone Unscripted."

The festival also has some great talent as part of the advisory board. "The advisory board is a group of sci-fi stars who kindly offered to endorse us. This is our first time to produce a festival. The endorsement of the advisory board has really helped us."

There are already plans to expand Sci-Fest for next year. "We're hoping to grow the festival so we can take on even more challenging material and expand the horizons of the festival.

"...Although live performance will always be our primary focus, there are already plans to create a short story contest and a possible sci-fi art show for next year. Sci-fi is about humans imaging their collective future. It's always been relevant. It always will be."

Sci-Fest opens at The Acme Theater Hollywood starting May 6th. Tickets are available now at www.Sci-Fest.com

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