Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring One Act Festival 2011

The student-directed Spring One Act Festival is back this year with four original one-act plays written by Oregon State University students. The Theatre program's playwriting sequence begins Fall term by introducing students to the fundamentals of playwriting including exploring the basics of plot, characterization, and dialogue. Students from that class developed original monologues, short scenes, a children's play based on Little Red Ridinghood, and then a one-act play on a topic of their choosing. The sequence continues Winter term in Advanced playwriting. This class focuses on workshopping and further developing stageable works. The class culminates with students submitting a one-act play for consideration for the Spring Festival.

At this point in the process, the student directors came into the mix. Rowan Russell, Andrew Atkinson, and Alex Johnston are undergraduate directors who took the directing sequence last year. Andrew and Alex directed as part of last spring's One-Act Festival. Andrew also recently directed the Lab Theatre production of I See God/I See Allah. Addie McDermond, a graduate student, also has taken the sequence and has experience directing. The directors were given all the scripts submitted for consideration and were able to express their preferences as to which play each would direct. As a group, we attempted to find a project each person would find exciting and challenging, but would also best serve the festival as a whole and reflect the work of the entire playwriting class. I am pleased to say our festival will include four diverse and challenging plays.

Jordyn Patton's Behind Bars, directed by Alex Johnston, tells the story of a young man named Jay and his experiences inside a prison system. Jay, under the guidance of his cellmate Cody, is taught how to survive the system and finds that the values he learned outside prison do not reflect those inside. Jay's values are further challenged when he begins corresponding with a young college student named Jessica. This drama explores issues of racism, survival, and second-chances.

Colin Fant's Hint, directed by Addie McDermond, is a colorful, comic murder-mystery. A group of strangers are brought to a mansion by a pretentious butler named Major Domo in order to solve the murder of a wealthy man who referred to himself as "The Emperor." The individual who solves the mystery is promised a large reward. This playful and witty one-act follows one long night of a cast of lovably doofy characters.

Aaron Kopperman's Southern Firelight, directed by Rowan Russell, is a dark drama taking play in the deep post-Civil War South. Lynch-mob leader, James Raitt is trapped in a cave with a young black man named Abram and forced to depend upon him for survival. The play explores issues of racism, morality, humanity, and the supernatural.

Sarah Mc Kenney's Maverick is directed by Andrew Atkinson. The play takes place in a medium-term psychiatric ward and follows the story of John, a young schizophrenic man, tortured by visions of his outlandish childhood friend, Maverick. While John desperately wants to escape Maverick and lead a normal life, Maverick does not want to let go of John. The result is a witty and darkly comic tale.

The One-Act Festival runs May 25-29 on the Withycombe Main Stage. The following blog entries will include progress on the production from the playwrights and directors.

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