September 25, 2017

Student-Run Theatre Festival Takes To The Stage

By: Madeline Linnell ‘17

Managing Editor

An all-student run, major festival production is finally here: Running Late: A New Play Festival.

Students wrote screenplays in previous playwriting courses, taught by Professor Mark Stevick, six of which were chosen to for the festival.

Three students—Drew Cleveland ‘17, Annika Schultz ‘17 and Jacob Padilla ’17—directed two plays each.

Every play is loosely related to the theme of time and how people perceive or “deal” with it. Though, Cleveland said that the theme of time is “not definitive,” but “works in ways for some of the plays.”

The genres and themes range widely throughout each play. A few comedies include Padilla’s directed play The Wake and Schultz’s directed Ding Dong Date.” One of the drama pieces, Delayed (directed by Drew Cleveland), is ironically void of much drama. This play in particular was “extremely hard to direct,” said Cleveland, “The writing doesn’t ask for something huge from the actors. It is very moderate in tone and slow too. The challenge is to find ways to create more dynamics in the piece and find that kind of variation.”

Stevick said, “Last year, the creative writing program collaborated with the theatre program to launch the New Plays Initiative, and we did staged readings of a handful of plays including a full-length play by Claire Campbell.” The initiative was, said Stevick, largely then-student Rachel Heard’s “brainchild.” In the aftermath of Confessions’ cancellation, a play the theatre department was initially planning to stage in January 2017, the New Plays Initiative took on this new project: a festival.

The festival differs from the New Plays Initiative’s previous works in that it has a larger budget, as evidenced by the fact that the directors could make specific requests and have it come to fruition. Padilla said, “I wanted a medical table.” And he got his medical table. Preparing for the festival was also a “more thorough process, more concentrated,” said Schultz.

The lack of professional involvement has affected the general attitudes of the students. Cleveland said that there is a “greater struggle to be casual about” the festival, and “everyone is striving to keep professional.”

This applies to student costume designers, like Hannah Weitzel ‘17. Weitzel is responsible for the Civil War outfits in the play Fuss and Feathers. Reflecting on her experience, Weitzel said, “It also was a really good opportunity to get to know other members of the department, as there were many people that I had not previously had a chance to interact with who were a part of Running Late.”

For Weitzel, having an opportunity to collaborate with her peers and create a full-fledged production together shapes not only practical insights to the process, but it also informs her philosophical approach to the art of costume design.

She said, “Costume design is a fresh way of considering the conscious choices we make in how we look when we get dressed every morning, but it also takes making those choices to the next level: how do we portray a character onstage through their clothing?”

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