Festival of Short Plays focus on Interfaith


by Belle Ward, Features Editor

Theatre Simpson’s Festival of Short Plays this weekend will feature four plays completely produced by students and serve as the senior capstone for theatre arts majors.  

Senior theatre arts major Addison Grant is one of the two directors for the Festival of Short Plays. Grant is directing “Blood” and “That Last Step.”

“The plays themselves have a lot more in them than the first glance, and I think that’s been a challenge in trying to figure out how to keep the essence of the play,” Grant said.

James Menges, the playwright of “That Last Step,” will be attending each of the performances.

The theme this year is Interfaith. The cast, crew and designers consists of 59 students.

Since the plays chosen for FSP are all new, Grant does not know if the play has been produced elsewhere before coming to Simpson.

“It has definitely pushed me to ensure that my actors are doing the best that they can, and I, as a director, am really looking at the script and going back to the text and trying to make sure that all of my decisions are based off of what’s in the script,” Grant said.

After directing a high school theatre program over the summer, Grant was excited to have the opportunity to direct again.

“Directing for me is not about not making sure that my vision comes to pass, but that these actors are growing and that we’re working together to create a cohesive piece,” Grant said.

Grant has seen the actors in her plays grow throughout their rehearsals, becoming familiar with the characters they portray.

“Despite religious or belief diversity, we can all come together through various things, and that we have more similarities than differences,” Grant said.

Six students are in the cast for “That Last Step,” which is the biggest cast of the four plays.

Grant has been involved with FSP for four years in either acting or leadership roles.

“FSP really is a chance for our seniors to shine and to show what they’re capable of,” Grant said. “As a senior, it has been great to hone in on the skills that I want to pursue after college.”

Grant would like to direct after college, and having the ability to direct a group of undergraduate students gives her experience.

“Collaborative leadership is something that Theatre Simpson really pushes. And I think FSP is one of the best examples of that because it is a student-run production,” Grant said.

Grant said another important element of FSP is the ability to bring students together, including students who do not take theatre classes.

Grant also hopes to see more students outside of the theatre department come to the performance.

“I think community wise, theatre and the arts are incredibly important, just as a culture. And coming to something that is student-run and student-produced is so helpful to the generations going forward,” Grant said.

Sophomore Melanie Gillet plays the character Moh in “That Last Step.” Gillet enjoys the element of discussion about religious diversity.

“The best part of Festival of Short plays is when the community of the theatre department and Simpson’s students and faculty come together and respectfully discuss sensitive issues to work towards a more accepting society,” Gillet said.

Senior Theatre Arts major Audrey Kaus is the sound designer for FSP. She is also a member of the theatre arts capstone class.

Although Kaus has never been a sound designer before, she enjoys the challenge this brings.

“Because these are all pretty new plays, as sound designer, there’s not really a ton written in cue-wise, which makes it interesting as somebody who’s new to try to come up with ideas to enhance the show,” Kaus said.

Although the production can be a challenge, Kaus enjoys having the support of her peers.

“Overall, I’m really happy and really proud of the student leadership with this production because we’ve been one giant collaborative team,” Kaus said.

For Kaus, being involved with the production as an underclassman was a different perspective than leading the production.

“I’ve always seen it from an actor’s perspective usually, or from costumes. It’s fun to get a new perspective on it all,” Kaus said.

Since all of the short plays are about religious beliefs, the senior capstone class discussed the elements that connected religions.

“A lot of them revolve around the concept of death. Because we’ve realized in our course that one thing that really unites religion or lack thereof is like strength and depth and highlighting hope,” Kaus said.

She said that a diverse theme allows different perspectives to come forward.

“These themes are things that people should keep talking about. Don’t ever put them away unless you’re not thinking about them in a positive way,” Kaus said.

The cast will perform the Festival of Short Plays at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Barnum Studio Theatre April 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and April 14 at 1:00 p.m.