Student theatre festival premieres this weekend in Barnam

by Sarah Keller & DiAndre NevilleStaff Writers

Simpson Theatre will premier its student festival, “Between the Wars: American Theatre in the 1920s and 1930s.” Friday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Barnam Studio.

The student festival is directed and produced by students in the Theater Department’s senior seminar and will consist of four shows over two acts.

The senior seminar students have spent the semester studying theater between World War I and World War II. As their final project, the students direct, produce, cast and design their own production.

This year, senior Chelsea Donison, production stage manager will oversee the entire performance.

Act One will feature, “Suppressed Desires,” and “Before Breakfast,” both of which will be directed by senior Kayla Dvorak. During Act Two, students will perform, “Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden,” directed by Melissa Markus, and “Thirst,” directed by Jacob Kaufman,

Junior Danille Brown will serve as scene designer for the festival. She was selected by the directors and producers for the role.

“Working with the directors has been a great experience. This play is so different in nature from the rest of the plays we produce because it’s a compilation, performed consecutively, as opposed to one show with one script. I’m very excited for the shows to start. I think the audience will be enthralled with the pieces and the performances,” Brown said. Being a scene designer, Brown took on the task much like it sounds, in designing the scenes for all of the shows in the festival.

Having a fellow student as a director has proven to be a bit of a challenge for some of the actors taking part in the festival this year, including freshman Lindsey Oetken who is performing in, “The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden.”

“It’s interesting working with a fellow student as a director,” Oetken said. “I really haven’t had much experience with something like this, and as a freshman, it’s all pretty new to me. It does create an interesting challenge for everyone involved since it is an almost entirely student run show. It makes you really realize how the real world works and how communication, patience and understanding are really important.”

On the flipside, other actors have found it extremely beneficial having a student director to help them with their work. Sophomore Jennie Flinspach plays a role in the show “Thirst,” a story of three people who are slowly reaching their deaths as their luxury cruise liner sinks. The story is based on human behavior and the possible outcomes of a desperate situation.

“Jacob is our director.” Flinspach said. “It’s great to work with him. He’s so dedicated and always has some new and great ideas or approaches for us to try. He is innovative and unafraid to take risks, which really does help the actors to develop their characters,”

Performances of the student festival will take place Friday and Saturday, April 3-4 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 5 at 1 p.m. in the Barnum Studio.