Students call the shots in thespian One-Act Festival
Eddie Solis Jr.
THE SANTA CLARA
October 23, 2014
The training wheels are off, and three senior theater majors are about to ride solo, marking their directorial debut this weekend in the fall One-Act Festival.
The comedy “Words, Words, Words” directed by Kyle Van Zanten will open the festival, followed by the existential play “The Game” directed by Michileen Marie Oberst. The drama “Cocaine,” directed by Ty Van Herweg, will close the event.
“Each play deals with some sort of cage that the characters are dealing with,” said Oberst. “It forces us to look at our own internal struggles and bigger global issues.”
The festival will be a buffet of emotions and entertainment, offering a little bit of everything to please the palates of theatergoers.
The directors have been working on their productions since summer break. They hit the ground running during the second week of fall quarter by holding auditions.
“Directing in the festival is a great leadership opportunity,” said Van Herweg. “We only have three weeks to put it all together with limited resources and limited time.”
Being in charge of each production taught the three students that directing a play goes far beyond yelling “action!” They organized a cast of actors, presented their vision of the plays and thought extensively about details such as lighting, stage design and costumes. All the behind-the-scenes work put into the productions was aimed at creating a final product that looks effortless and organic.
For Van Zanten, being a director helped him become a more well-rounded thespian.
“I’ve always been onstage looking at the director, and it’s like a switch that leads to a better understanding of the theatrical process as a whole,” said Van Zanten.
Van Zanten took on the challenge of directing a comedy about three monkeys in a cage who are tasked with recreating a Shakespeare play. Throughout the past weeks, Van Zanten, like the two other seniors, gave direction to his actors on everything from body language and line delivery to stage presence.
Oberst took a more collaborative approach to directing her actors. She encouraged them to analyze the motives of the characters psychologically and come together as a group to find how to best portray them.
“The Game” is about personified versions of Life and Death, who play a game of dice for the fate of a young poet and a dancer. Oberst was drawn to the work because of its subject matter. She hopes audience members consider the impact of suicide in our society and encourage people to seek support if they are going through similar issues.
In a similar vein, Van Herweg’s play “Cocaine” discusses the serious matter of drug addiction and how it affects families. His passion for the subject spread to his actors.
“The director’s energy is the foundation of the collaborative experience between them and their actors,” he said.
Jeffrey Bracco, faculty advisor for the festival, guided the directors in bringing their passion and good work ethic to the productions. He is excited for the students to gain real-life directorial experience.
“They’ve all chosen plays that speak to their imagination,” Bracco said. “They’re young, raw, emerging artists. We get a chance to see what they’ve got and what they can do.”
Shows will run Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Fess Parker Studio Theatre, with general admission tickets priced at $5.
Contact Eddie Solis Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org .