Senior drama majors to direct student one act plays


As the Franciscan University drama department begins the showing of “Twelfth Night,” three senior drama majors continue with the production of their own shows.

Senior drama majors Sarah Zapiain, Andrew Kelly and Jessica Andrews are all making progress in the production of their student one acts as part of their senior year.

“As a drama major,” said Sarah Zapiain, senior drama major, “among the other things that you are required to do to graduate, two of these are writing a thesis … and also completing a production class, which means putting on a one act.”

Zapiain said this begins in junior year, when all drama majors are required to take various directing classes, the main one being Principle Directing.

“That’s when you pick your one act and start doing analysis, all the textual stuff, to prepare you for senior year when you actually do your one acts,” said Zapiain, “so build your set, find your props, cast your actors and actually put on the play.”

Zapiain said that is in junior year that they are given criteria to follow and the guidelines to the show.

The show cannot be a 3-hour long Shakespeare play, said Zapiain.

“You’re looking for something that can fit in about one class period of time for rehearsal purposes,” said Zapiain. “And also shooting for a smaller cast size, you’re a student trying to do other classes and survive senior year and write a thesis, so you don’t want to have 20 people in your cast.”

Normally, a cast size can be anywhere from two to 12 people, said Zapiain.

Oftentimes, the students who come to audition for the main play, in this case “Twelfth Night,” can also choose to audition for the student one acts.

The student one acts are “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” “White Lies” and “Talley’s Folly.”

Zapiain’s student one act is “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” which is a story about a mother and her two daughters learning to face their fears, said Zapiain.

Her cast of five actors has met three times a week since the beginning of the semester to rehearse their play, said Zapiain.

Another senior drama major, who is at work with his cast in ‘White Lies,’ is Andrew Kelly.

Many times the seniors find their student one acts through “trial and error,” said Kelly.

“The process was a lot of reading different plays, finding out what kind of plays I liked, and then reading about those kinds of plays until I found one that really, really clicked,” said Kelly.

“White Lies,” a story about a fortune teller, consists of three actors, said Kelly.

Zapiain said the project of directing is almost the same equivalent as having a double thesis.

Before the show is performed, the professors in the drama department must come watch it first, said Zapiain.

Kelly said, “The senior designs his set, designs the lighting, the costumes, does all that footwork, as well as directing and casting the play itself.”

The third senior drama major to put on a student one act is Jessica Andrews.

Her setting is only slightly different that the other two plays. While the other two are full plays, hers is an hour-long conversation between two people, she said.

“Talley’s Folly” is a romantic comedy of two people who fall in love, set after World War II, said Andrews.

“I think why this is so crucial that this is one of our final things, in addition to a written thesis, in addition to a class on the philosophy of theater,” said Andrews, “the one act is the opportunity for the student to demonstrate, practically, theoretically, to apply everything you’ve learned, all the blood, sweat and tears that have happened, so I just think it’s a … summation of everything you’ve done.”

Andrews said one of her favorite parts about being able to direct her own play is being able to bring together everything she has learned over the last four years of college and to allow herself to work with your hands, body, mind, heart and soul to create a play.

“That’s what theater is,” said Andrews. “And that’s why I love the drama major here.”

As these seniors are all involved in the production of “Twelfth Night,” they will have a quick turnaround after the show is over to begin to set up for their student one acts.

The student one acts will run April 21 – 24, said Zapiain. These shows are all free to students.

“I feel prepared-ish,” said Kelly. “You never really feel completely prepared for anything like this, but I feel confident that we will be able to put on a good show when the time comes in just a few weeks.”