Varying from magical fantasy to the mature theme of suicide, three student-directed one-acts being produced this semester promise to give a mixture of fun adventure, serious food for thought and reflections on family values to the audience.
One-acts, the crowning work of a theatre student, are a required part of the thesis for graduation. Through their one-acts, theatre majors show they have learned all aspects of the theatre and are responsible for lights, sets, props and of course, actors.
Senior Brigita Ruta is directing the play “’Night Mother,” written by Marsha Norman, which is a tragical story of a young woman, Jessie, who has hit the lowest point possible in life, resolving to kill herself.
“The whole conversation (in the play) is attempting to resolve all the problems that Jessie, the character, has dealt with her entire life and what has led her to this point,” Ruta said.
Ruta is directing two roles in her one-act: that of the main character, Jessie, and her mother, focusing the play on a mother-daughter relationship.
“It’s a very realistic play; it’s going to be very up front and personal with the audience,” Ruta said. “I am very much seeking to really show the audience what it is that leads people to this point, where they hit that rock bottom. And how it could be prevented from early on, through the way that people interact with each other.”
Ruta also wants to emphasize the importance Jessie’s life has on those around her. “I wanted to show … how important it really is that she does stay alive.”
Because of the emotional content in “’Night Mother,” directing it takes a toll on Rutaa and her actors. She said she’s had to consciously allow breaks during practices because the story is heartbreaking and “very intense.”
Senior Katia Scaffidi is directing a one-act called “A Rose in Its Time,” written by Jeffrey M. Watts.
“It’s a memory play,” Scaffidi said. The play tells the story of Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed in the battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.
Told through the eyes of her sister, Georgia, the play shows what a courageous and virtuous woman Jennie was, Scaffidi said.
Jennie Wade is remembered for her service to the Union soldiers, Scaffidi said. She was killed in her house while baking bread for the soldiers.
“Jennie was a real person,” Scaffidi said. “All of these people (in the play) were real people, and Jennie … left a legacy. She was given a soldier’s funeral because of (her) service.”
Scaffidi chose the play because she has always been interested in history.
“As a family, we would do trips to Gettysburg, and my uncle, who’s a big history buff, would give us tours,” Scaffidi said. “He was a big influence on me picking this play.”
Scaffidi’s play has the most roles out of all the one-acts, with six actors playing multiple roles. Her first time ever directing, she said she is learning a lot about herself through this play.
“I have to be a lot more versatile because I’m producing and designing and coming up with concepts,” Scaffidi said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the other two one-acts, senior Elizabeth Buchanan is directing an adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” written by le Clanché du Rand.
Buchanan said everyone should come see the play, whether they love C.S. Lewis or not.
“My show is … different from the original book,” Buchanan said. “So don’t expect the book to come to life on stage, because that’s not what this is. This is definitely a very fun adaption of the story and there have been changes and artistic license taken to create sort of its own little story, which is different from C.S. Lewis. But it definitely follows the main message of the story.”
The adaptation cuts down the original story to be played by just four actors, although there is still a wide variety of characters.
The premise of the play is that the main characters have returned from their adventures in the fantasy world of Narnia and tell their story by acting it out.
Throughout the play, the characters step out and explain what is going on in their story and then they’ll act out what they’ve described, Buchanan said.
Buchanan grew up reading and watching the Chronicles of Narnia, so the play seemed like a good fit for her.
Buchanan wants this play to show her audience the idea of the incredible being in the everyday, and the main theme is forgiveness.
“What I’m looking for the audience to see is the struggle that those characters go through,” Buchanan said. “So (the idea is that) even if someone does you wrong, you still have to fight for the good of that person, no matter how far gone they seem.”
Directing the one-act has presented many challenges for Buchanan, including casting actors who can play not just one role, but two or three dichotomous roles.
“Lucy, the innocent sweet one, also plays the witch, who is the epitome of evil,” Buchanan said. “So I needed an actress who was able to do both of those at the same time.”
One of Buchanan’s actors plays seven different characters.
“I was a little worried to pick this one because it is very demanding but I think my actors are up to the task,” Buchanan said.
“‘Night Mother” will be performed Nov. 19 at 6 p.m., Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. “A Rose in its Time” will be performed Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” will be performed Nov. 19 and 21 at 9 p.m. and Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.
All performances will be in Anathan Theatre.