Today: Jun 17, 2024

Students switch roles and direct one act plays

Mackenzie Hurlbert – General Assignment Reporter

Students and staff gathered in the Black Box Theatre of Kendall Drama Lab to see this semester’s student directed one-acts titled “Four Elements.” The four plays were split into two nights; Night A featured “The Chocolate Affair” and “The Dance Below,” while night B featured “The Other Five Percent” and “Will you please shut up?” Performances ran from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

Junior Georgia Russell stage-managed for the night B one act “The Other Five Percent,” but came out to support the other two plays on night A on Thursday, Nov. 29. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the theatre department has to show the rest of the school,” said Russell, a theatre major. “This is the first time I’ve been able to be in the audience for a performance. I’m so excited!”

The first opening one act was “The Chocolate Affair” by Stephanie Walker and directed by Megan O’Lena. Before the performance, O’Lena said she was “anxious, but in a good way.” This was her first time directing at Southern and for adults, but O’Lena had previous experience directing with a younger cast.

“All of my experience previous to now has been directing children’s theatre,” said O’Lena.

Student directors were able to choose the play they wished to work with, and O’Lena chose hers because it addresses relatable issues in a comic sense. “It was the first show that I read that literally made me laugh out loud,” said O’Lena before the show. “Also it was short so I could do more with the content.”

“The Chocolate Affair” was about 10 minutes long, but within its short frame a variety of societal issues were addressed, including how society views women and the fragility of the self-image. “It’s a comedy that has some very real issues which we see through Beverly’s character,” said O’Lena.

The play was based on a woman named Beverly, played by Michelle DelGuidice, dealing with a history of obesity, and while she has overcome her weight problems, her craving for candy has remained. In one sugar-high craze while locked in a motel room, the woman is approached by a suave Mr. Goodbar, played by Wesley Iskra, and a sassy M&M, played by Camisha Farquharson.  The one act was comical and caused the audience to laugh on many occasions, but as O’Lena said, it addressed real problems women face in everyday life.

Crystal Tejeda, a junior, said she enjoyed the first one-act and looked forward to the next. “I really enjoyed the comedic part of it. It was really funny and it didn’t have characters that you normally would have, like chocolate, so I thought that was pretty fun,” she said.

After a short intermission, the second one-act began, and it was titled “The Dance Below” and directed by Felix Reyes. “When first searching for a none-act play to direct, I knew that I wanted to work on a piece that was unique in its style and setting,” said Reyes within his director’s note. “I fell in love with the idea of being in an existentialist hell.”

“One of the elements if not the prime factor that drew me to this show was the freedom that the script gives form a design and directorial standpoint,” said Reyes. And he took advantage of this freedom to its fullest. The set itself was creative and beautiful in a dark, macabre sense.  Floating windows and a door frame were covered with artistically twisted and grey branches. A stump, bench, and lone chair provided seating for the characters imprisoned in hell, and the actors’ eyes were surrounded with a reddish makeup which created an undead, demonic look.

This one-act was about two men in hell awaiting the arrival of the ones they love. One man, Paul Knox played by Nathan Tracy, is waiting for his wife Agnes. His friend, John Bates played by Brenden Walsh, is awaiting his gal named Aggie. When Agnes arrives, played by Maggie MacDonald, the audience discovers that she’s both of the men’s love. Her husband Paul remains clueless to the betrayal, and the character John refuses to betray his pal. By the end all characters realize that hell is just a continuation of what plagues one on earth.

The following night featured the one-acts “The Other Five Percent” directed by Chloe Parrington and “Will you please shut up?” directed by Bryan Ruzicka. Stage manager of “the Other Five Percent” Georgia Russell said she was excited for the production which premiered Friday, Nov. 30. “I’m looking forward for the audience to see how much work the entire crew and cast has put into this one-act,” said Russell. “It’s my first time stage managing in college and I’m really excited for everyone to see it. It was a really good learning experience and I really enjoyed it.”

“I think what was really rewarding was just seeing how the one-acts started from day one, seeing it all the way through to the performances, and just seeing all the hard work and how it’s paid off,” she said. “As an actor it’s a completely different feel, and when you’re apart from the acting you can just see how much work is put into it. It’s a really amazing experience.”

Bryan Ruzicka, director of “Will you please shut up?” the second one-act of night B, was also excited about his premier. “I had so much fun directing my own play. I’ve never directed before so I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s definitely different being on the other side of the table during auditions,” said Ruzicka. “I learned a lot during the process about how much work actually goes into researching the play and making sure you know exactly what you want for the end product.”

When asked why he chose this one-act, Ruzicka said it took a little debating. “I am very indecisive so being forced to make decisions was the hardest part for me. I chose ‘Will you please shut up?’ because it was really the only play I read that I truly connected to in a way I had not with the others,” he said.

“I am very happy with the end product. My actors, designers, and the entire crew totally worked together to make my ideas come to life even better than I imagined.”

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