Theatre MSU invites people to attend its One Act Plays, a series of 17 student-written productions starting at 7 p.m. April 19-22.
With titles like “Monkey Island,” “Lilies Among Violets,” “No Laughing Matter” and “What Happened at Cannoli’s,” the productions offer a wide variety of theatrical entertainment.
Tickets cost $5 a night and can be purchased online. Each night will feature multiple plays, and audience members will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite performances.
Tonya Hays, an assistant professor of theater performance, said the plays are student-led with the support of the faculty, and each play has its own student director and writer.
“This is my third year at MSU. My fellow faculty members and I want to make the department as student-driven as possible,” Hays said.
Hays has watched her students develop as playwrights and directors as the instructor of the writing class last fall and the directing class this spring.
“Each year the students vote on what classical tragedy they want to perform,” Hays said. “They choose. They act. They direct. They design.”
The One Act Plays showcase the “student-driven” focus.
Students submitted the plays in the playwriting class last semester. The productions were then selected and directed by the students in the directing class.
MSU students have been in charge of every stage of the process from choosing, acting, designing and lighting.
Ryan Bergman is a junior communication major with a concentration in theater. Bergman is one of the MSU students involved with the One Act Plays.
Bergman’s play “The Third Eye” will make its debut April 22. He also directed one of the performances for April 21 titled “Your Local Coffee Shop."
For Bergman, writing in the classroom did not mean just striving for an A. He said that he and his peers were ambitious with their stories. They wanted to create good stories for the sake of storytelling.
“The play I wrote is rather serious,” Bergman said. “It revolves around a hotel room. There is a hit man and someone in the room he is supposed to kill. The other character – the third eye – is the hit man’s conscience.”
Bergman’s “The Third Eye” evokes deep questions.
“It asks what is moral? What is not? This is a much more philosophical play than people might expect about nihilism versus optimism,” Bergman said.
Like Hays, Bergman agreed that the theater is a place of collaboration. He explained his responsibilities as a director and trust as a writer.
“It is really good directing my peers. Everyone has a mutual respect. Because you are directing, you want to do a good job with someone else’s work,” Bergman said. “You have faith in these talented actors to perform your work too.”
Lauren Kaufman, a senior communication major with a theater minor, found her experiences with the One Act Plays rewarding. She values the teamwork that produces the performance – the culmination of the work of writers, directors and actors.
“I think one of the most rewarding things about directing and playwriting is seeing the words from the page come to life. I think that seeing everything come together for the performance is a very joyous feeling,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman wrote the play “Lilies Among Violets” and directed “John: The Biography,” which will leave the audience asking philosophical questions like Bergman’s writing.
“The play is about the wacky retelling of John’s life. However, did these events actually happen, or is he lying about everything?” Kaufman said. “It’s up to the audience to decide.”
Chapell Chumley, a senior communication major, said she enjoyed directing Kaufman’s play “Lilies Among Violets.”
“I am directing a beautiful show about a woman who tries to right the wrongs of the past before she dies by visiting someone important to her,” Chumley said.
Chumley also commented on the challenge of time management.
“Finding time to work with the actors’ busy schedules has been very hard but definitely worth it,” Chumley said. “We have grown so much since when we first started.”
Many students like Bergman, Kaufman and Chumley worked together over the course of the year to write, direct, act and design works for the stage. They invite people to four nights of drama at McComas Theatre.
Viewers will learn more about the third eye’s message and question if John tells the truth. Ultimately, all playgoers will support student creative work at MSU.
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