The theatre and arts department will end its 2016-2017 season by debuting student-directed, one-act plays in the annual One-Act Play Festival June 10-11 in H.P. Davidson Music Center (building 45), room 212.
Students who direct these plays are part of a Directing (TH 450) one-act capstone course offered to theatre majors combining performance, technical and script skills into the project. Students act in and direct the plays, written by established playwrights. Theatre professor and department chair Josh Machamer leads the students and helps them choose the best 10 to 15 minute plays to produce.
“I give them advice about [the plays],” Machamer said. “What I think is a challenge with the play, what some of the pitfalls might be with it. But ultimately, it is their choice and part of directing is deciding what they think is a good play.”
Most of the shows, which range from comedies to dramas, feature a cast of only two actors per play. Few actors are cast in order to make the productions more focused on character relationships.
Thirteen one act plays will be featured in the festival. Student directors are involved in every aspect of production, including collecting props, putting together costumes and marketing.
Written by Maria Rokas, “Warning Signs” is theatre senior Meghan Trask’s directorial debut. The story is about Larry and Clarissa, a couple facing trust issues in their relationship.
The two characters are simultaneously grieving; Larry just lost his job and Clarissa’s friend died. Larry and Clarissa each lean on different people to cope with their grief, creating emotional and physical distance between them.
“I picked it because it deals with actual relationships and communication,” Trask said. “Also it tackles grief and how people deal with that.”.
Theater junior Ryan Doebler’s directs Emily Roderer’s “Scheherazade,” which tells the story of a man and a girl on a boat looking to believe in something.
Doebler said he hopes to remind people to interact and play with the people around them through this play. To bring the performance to life, Doebler has been taking his actors to Avila Beach to bring them closer to the play’s setting on the ocean.
“How I like to direct, you know you have point A and point B, and you have to get there, but how you do it is up to you,” Doebler said.
“The Ketchup Bottle”
Theatre sophomore Cassidy Cagney chose to direct a play written by Shipley School of Performing Arts. The story is about an elderly couple who get into a fight over a ketchup bottle. Cagney describes the play as a story of people learning to accept each other, even if they don’t necessarily understand one another. A comedic take on relationships, Cagney chose the piece in the hope of inspiring the current generation, which she thinks has lost some hope.
Because the story is about elderly people, Cagney faced a challenge when looking for actors to portray the older age the script calls for. Her college-aged actors will manipulate their voices and bodies to portray the elderly couple. She called this the ultimate Learn by Doing experience.
“I knew that my play was going to be about old people,” Cagney said. “So really I was looking for physicalization and vocalization.”
Written by William Borden, “Jumping” is theatre senior Tori Waner’s first time directing. A story that involves suicide, political movements and loss of relationships through infidelity, the play deals with very serious themes. However, the story maintains comedic charm with the use of props and costumes. This is one of the reasons Waner chose to direct “Jumping.”
In the play, a man named Jerry debates jumping off a bridge. He then meets a stranger named Denise who tries to coax him down from the ledge. While Jerry has moved past caring about the things in his life, Denise cares deeply about a variety of topics.
“It’s kind of looking [at] how they are in very similar situations and how they see each other very differently,” Waner said. “They start going back and forth until there is this final realization that they’re much more similar than they realized.”
Waner said she wants to remind people through “Jumping” that although we sometimes feel alone, we aren’t.
“It is important to look up and around before you leap,” Waner said.
Waner plans to bring the information and experiences she gains from directing the one act play back into her own acting.
The plays debut the weekend of June 10. More information is available at www.theatredance.calpoly.edu.