Student Directed One-Acts

Slideshow and Video by Amanda Parrish

Chad Hoy, senior theater major, and Matthew Cole, senior digital media studies major, play out a scene from a version of ‘Rent’ for Lori Landon’s one-act called ‘The Least Offensive Play in the Whole Darn World.’ | Photo by Amanda Parrish

By Amanda Parrish, Staff Writer

Lights! Costume! Action!

A flurry of movement and a sparring of words will bring the W.D. Powell Theatre to life for this year’s Student Directed One-Acts, Dec. 1-3.

Five students from the theater program’s directing class will test their skills and stretch their imaginative abilities by directing a 20-25 minute show. This year, the performances will include a wide variety of entertainment, including a short film produced by Erik Netland, sophomore digital media studies major, and several one-act plays.

The performances will leap from serious, pensive and mysterious, to lighthearted, playful and ironic.
David Burke, professor and director of theater, said the students have been charged with not only directing but also producing their one-acts from start to finish.

Responsible for choosing a cast, blocking the scenes, arranging rehearsals and creating a set, the students worked all semester to bring their imagination to life.

Some have elected the less-trod path of starting from scratch with their own story scripts, while others chose the unique challenge of interpreting and shaping another’s work.

Aubrey Swanson, senior theater and English double major, produced an original piece of work for her One-Act.

“Directing alone is intoxicating,” Swanson said. “But directing your own is a weird high.”

Swanson said her play is primarily a mystery story of a detective assigned to investigate a young woman’s sudden case of apparent insanity.

The other plays delve into the more comedic observations of human interactions and thinking.

Jillian Barron, junior theater and French double major, will direct a one-act play called “Sure Thing” by David Ives. Barron described the play as a study in language.

The act reveals the interactions between a man and a woman meeting in a restaurant. Throughout their meeting, each character is given the chance to “take back” a phrase and restate it.

“It’s almost like you get to see what always goes on in your head when you’re meeting someone for the first time and you wish you could take something back,” Barron said. “Well, they actually get to take it back.”

David Conway, senior history major, chose to produce an act by Neil Simon called “A Visitor From Forest Hill.” This comedic play shows the interaction between a daughter who is locked in a bathroom on her wedding day, and her parents’ persistent efforts to get her out without questions.

Lori Landon, senior art major, chose to direct a one-act titled, “The Least Offensive Play in the Whole Darn World.” This act deals with numerous issues that Hollywood and theaters deal with on a regular basis. However, the issues are addressed in a comical way that there is “nothing impure about it whatsoever,” as Burke said.

Netland has produced a short film centered on the ins and outs of relationships in a campus environment.

For the students, the experience of directing their own One-Acts has been more than fulfilling a class assignment.

“(I enjoy) those moments of inspiration (in directing) that takes it from good to possibly be great,” Conway said. “If it’s not great then it’s something that’s different — something the audience hasn’t seen before.”

Each student imposes his or her own directing styles into the process. They give the actors the freedom to develop along with the play while walking the fine line of retaining their artistic license as director.

“Hopefully, they will learn how you inspire people,” Burke said. “(They will be) learning how do you get people working together in a single vision toward a goal, and that is going to help no matter what you do in life.”

Burke said the One-Act performances will allow friends, family and the university community to support the new directors with their first personally produced shows.

The One-Acts will be performed at 7:30 p.m. for an evening of intrigue, suspense and witty comedy.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.