One Acts Festival 2019: Incredible Student Productions



Alex Broening, Staff Writer

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The annual One Acts Festival is always an immensely impressive spectacle, and this year’s rendition was no different. Showing off a varied and experienced cast, the three shot plays were envisioned, written or adapted, then cast, designed, and directed by this year’s student directors: Josh Caven (’20), Jessica Thorne (’19), and Kate Gruber (’19).  

        The 2019 lineup included The Proposal (a 19th century Russian play by Anton Chekhov), The Cask of Amontillado (adapted from the classic Edgar Allan Poe story), and The Man Who Was Peter Pan (adapted from works by Allan Knee and David Magee). Varied in their tone and mood, these performances amused and occupied audiences for three nights in Maggie Walker’s Black Box Theater.

        The Proposal, with its insightful commentary and ubiquitous yelling, not only provided fascinating insight into the lives of the Russian Upper Class, but left the audience gasping from its foolish dialogue and the overdramatic interactions. Consisting of only three characters, the play nonetheless did not fail to entertain. Sophomore Will Polaski (’21), playing the part of a suitor in poor health, was extremely pleased with his part in the smaller stage production, after being cast as Charlie in the MLWGS production of Sweet Charity. “Honestly, I was just excited to be doing more acting outside of the mainstage productions!” he says, adding that “it certainly was challenging to produce the entire show in only three weeks from start to finish.”

        Jessica Thorne’s production of The Cast of Amontillado drew upon her research on Edgar Allan Poe that she had conducted for her mentorship. In her version of the story, the author, Poe, is actually played by an actor, who involves himself with the characters as the act progresses, causing greater and greater confusion and unease. Augmented by moody and dramatic lighting in the smaller theater, the act certainly had its desired effect, and left the audience intrigued and thrilled.

        Finally, the longest act of the night was Kate Gruber’s adaptation of Allan Knee’s play The Man Who Was Peter Pan combined with elements of J.M. Barrie’s screenplay for Peter Pan. A passion project for the young director, Gruber had managed to obtain a copy of Allan Knee’s play through the only source available – the writer himself. Having reached out to the only theater known to have ever performed the play, Gruber was surprised to receive a response directly from Allan Knee, with a copy of the script attached. With immense efforts over the preceding three weeks, Gruber, her actors, and her stage crew were able to put on a show that inspired and enlivened the audience. Despite its complicated and challenging nature, the director, actors, and tech crew were incredibly successful in creating a wonderous production.

        Says Isabella Kates (’21), the stage manager for the 2019 One Acts Festival: “Even though this was my first time stage managing alone, I had a great time and a great stage crew. I think together, we all put on an amazing performance!”

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