The creative thoughts of Eastern Michigan University students formed in the Theatre Department’s student-written and student-directed One-Act Festival in the Frank Ross Laboratory Theatre this week.
From the early 1990’s to present day, the One-Act Festival has served the talents of EMU students in the art of playwriting, directing and performing.
Students write their own play and submit it under guidelines regarding length and number of characters. One-act plays are plays that have only one act and a couple of scenes that run in a short amount of time. Once the plays are submitted, a selection committee, consisting of faculty and staff in the Theatre Department, read the plays and pick the winners to be performed.
Students who are interested in directing submit their own applications and are selected by the committee to partner with the winning plays.
Not only are students featured as writers, directors and performers, but in the festival they are also stage managers, house managers, technicians and lighting and sound designers.
“The One-Act Festival is entirely produced by students,” said Pamela Cardell Cato, assistant managing director at EMU Theatre. “It's an exciting opportunity for our students to be hands on in all the areas of theatre.”
“Black Fear: An African American Love Story” was the first to open the festival. Directed by Anthoine Wyatt, the play mixed different experiences of African American couples dealing with sexuality in the black community. The play was a powerful start as the cast powered through the production with a thoughtful and impacting dialogue and conversation of the issue in the play.
“Painted Blind” was written by Gabriel Gonzalez and directed by Erika Culey. With a cast of three, the play was clever and sweet with a hint of darkness. Meg (Haley Jugowich) is blind and comes under the care of a nurse (Reid Warling) with a dark secret. The quirky play brought laughter to the audience as their relationship blossomed and the reason for Meg’s “blindness” is revealed.
“Trigger Warning” was another powerful performance of the night that was written by Sara Long and directed by Molly Heater. The play discussed the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. Alex Duncan who played the survivor of sexual assault, Betty, was impressive in drawing the audience into her experience and her emotions. The play spanned from three years ago to present day where Betty had to cope with friends and the looming assaulter.
There was a 10-minute intermission.
“The Three Heads of Cerberus” was a mythological and realist performance in one. Written by Carmel Rechnitzer and directed by Tristin Taylor, the play incorporated Greek mythology and the human experience in the afterlife and on Earth. The piece was witty and engaging where the audience was taken to Hades and to the life of Melinoe (Kelsey Booth), a woman bitter about dying and her love for another woman named Sanyu (Sanyu Lukwago).
“Lydia” was another quirky play that was written by Julia Czekaj and directed by Brittany Chapa. The play was about two women (Jillian Drapala and Remy Darnell) who were raising a green skinned child named Lydia (Erin Lucas). Full of humor, the play took the audience on a wild ride with the cast.
The last play, “Death Just Wants To Be Accepted,” was written by Shawn Vachet and directed by Craig Davis Jr. with a cast of two actors. The audience was introduced to the characters Death (Alex Duncan) and Writer (Prince Priestly). The play was humorous with the portrayal of Death as a spunky girl who was to take Writer to the afterlife after dying a mysterious death.
With just a short amount of rehearsal time, the actors in “Death Just Wants To Be Accepted” both enjoyed their experience as a first time performers in the One Act Festival and felt that they got something from it.
“I got to get to know a lot of people and get really close to them,” said Priestly.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Duncan. Duncan also was the main character in Trigger Warning. “It’s the largest roles I had at EMU since I’ve been here so that’s just exciting that I get to play contrasting roles and be a part of that.”
With different topics touching on sexuality, race, acceptance and love, The One-Act Festival showed the imaginations of EMU students in the most interesting way possible.