Students display talents in Senior Theatre Festival

by Stacey MagnesonStaff Writer

Want to see great performances and still stay on campus? If so, The Theatre Simpson Company is putting on the last production of the year, Festival 2007: The American Regional Theatre.

This showcase is a collection of one-act plays that are directed by Simpson students. The festival will be April 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and April 15 at 1:00 p.m. in the Blank Performing Arts Center.

The pieces were chosen by reading from pre-selected plays that Tom Woldt, associate professor of theatre arts, chose. Woldt is also the producer of all of the students’ works. The students then voted and five plays were selected.

All those involved in the theatre seminar sent in applications for positions they would like to hold in the plays. The plays were either from the Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville or from the Women’s Project and Productions in New York.

One of the students doing a production is senior Travis Cherniss. He is a theatre major who sent in his application to be a director and was then assigned to do a piece called “Betty’s Garage” by Carmen Rivera. The piece Cherniss will be directing is from the Women’s Project and Productions in New York.

“My piece is about the struggle for equality,” Cherniss said. “It revolves around domestic abuse and how women and children can escape these abusive situations. The play is set in the near future.”

Senior Zach Leiser is directing two pieces as well. The two pieces are “Kuwait” by Vincent Delaney and “Acorn” by David Graziano. According to the Simpson Web site, “Kuwait” is a “timely, frightening tale of the collision of journalism, military and gender,” while “Acorn” is a “comic look at young love and laundry.”

“I’ve been working diligently since the last few weeks of March with my actors rehearsing the two plays,” Leiser said. “It’s been a fun time and an eye-opening experience to be taking over an entire production with five other seniors. It’s fun, and I hope that I can continue to direct in the future.”

Senior Sarah Harriman is also directing two pieces–“Trash Anthem” by Dan Dietz and “The Love Talker” by Deborah Pryor. These pieces are a part of the Humana Festival.

“‘Trash Anthem’ is about a woman who has just killed and buried her husband for a mistake that he has made and her journey with him after he is dead and gone,” Harriman said. “‘The Love Talker’ is about the relationship between two sisters, and ultimately, what breaks them apart is sexual attraction and desire. It specifically deals with a lot of sexual tension and repression of that way to express oneself.”

Harriman feels the energy of the shows is raw emotion.

“Both are great shows, and although deal with a lot of emotions being repressed, have so much passion, energy, and raw emotion in them that is exuded throughout the production through acting, costumes, music, etc,” Harriman said.

Directing isn’t the only work that goes into making the festival happen. There is also behind-the-scenes action that takes place in order for the festival to go without a hitch. Senior theatre major Lindsey Johnson is the Production Stage Manager for the show. She will be making sure the show runs smoothly, calling all the cues and working with the directors, designers, actors and crew.

Besides Johnson, senior Laura Lundberg is the hair and make-up designer.

“We have weekly meetings as a production team, in class meetings twice a week and many hours of rehearsals in preparation of this event,” Johnson said.

When the show all comes together, everyone will be able to witness the seniors’ hard work through their finished product.

“The entire festival is so great,” Harriman said. “The five shows together make one hell of a night, full of different stories and journeys. The greatest thing to know is that these all came from somewhere so familiar to us, and that there are great regional theatres around us that are producing great plays.”