THE STAGE II* STUDENT DIERECTED ONE ACT PLAYS
Written by: Sam Shepard, David Ives, and Raven Knight
Directed by: David Ausem*, Erica Moshette*, and Amanda Kalinowski*
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz
The East Stroudsburg University (ESU)* Department of Theatre presented of the Stage II* (the student theatrical club) production of their Student Directed One Act Plays. This production was established long ago to not only demonstrate what the students learned during their years studying the art of theatre, but to expand upon the knowledge they obtained by exploring the directorial aspects of the art. The ESU* Student Directed One Act Plays have opened the door of opportunity for many students who later became inspiring directors in the theatrical community. They also serve as a treat to the audience for it gives them a glimpse of what is in store for the future of theatre in the coming years.
The first of the three plays to be presented was a Sam Shepard piece entitled, “Fool For Love” as directed by David Ausem*. The work is more than a bit confusing at first as demonstrated in the May character’s (as portrayed by Christie Berlane* and also served in the Production’s Carpentry department) conflicting desire to cling to the Eddie Character (as portrayed by Michael Demyan IV* (who also served in the Production’s Carpentry Department) while telling him to leave her alone. Yet, it is this confusion that serves to draw the audience into the work as they become more engaged wondering what the play is about.
As the play evolves, the embittered intoxicated utterances of an Old Man’s spirit (as portrayed by Alex Wirth) brings some revelation to what is transpiring on stage. The entrance of May’s perspective beau Martin (as portrayed by Ryan Drozd) inspired more explorations on what the play and its characters are about leading the audience on journey from being disturbed by the perversity of Eddie and May’s relationship to understanding the overwhelming depth of it.
The blocking (for the uninitiated: “Blocking” is a theatrical term used to describe the process determining the placement and movements of the actors) was straight forward and simple. This allowed the work to speak for itself. If the blocking was more complicated, it would only serve as a distraction to the piece. If too simple, it would leave it lacking in many respects. The Director David Ausem presented a well balance production which made Sam Shepard’s “Fool For Love” a compelling theatrical experience. Julie Wisniewski* served the production as it’s Stage Manager.
The second of the three One Act plays was a David Ives piece entitled, “Sure Thing” as directed by Erica Moshette*. In a vast departure from the previous presentation of Sam Shepard’s “Fool For Love,“ “Sure Thing” is a very simple and straight forward comedy. The play takes place in a coffeehouse in which two characters Bill (as portrayed by Brian Foley*) and Betty (as portrayed by Jessica Pachutta who also served in the Production‘s Publicity department) meet. The evolution of their meeting consisted of a series of faux pas which are remedied by an increasing hilarious series of do overs.
The pacing of the play was well timed by the very talented actors who made the situation very believable in spite of it’s gross departure from reality. Of course, some of the enjoyment of the piece derived from, as Erica Moshette* stated in the Director’s Notes, “…the idea of being able to start over a conversation after it’s already been started would be wonderful.” This reviewer is certain many (if not all) of the audience members agreed.
While much can be said about the skills of the actors which made the play enjoyable. It is the pacing of the piece which determines whether it can be believable enough to be funny. It takes the insight of a director to establish and maintain the pacing of any production. Ms. Moshette* directorial debut has shown she is more than capable of providing this insight to great effect. Emily Harris served the production as it’s Stage Manager and as a member of the Production’s Carpentry Department.
The last of the three plays was an experimental piece written by Raven Knight entitled, “Memories of The Moon” as directed by Amanda Kalinowski*. As with most experimental theatre, the purpose work seems not to be consciously understood during its presentation, but to be simply experienced and understood later. This understanding may come immediately after the play concludes or years afterwards. The work subscribing to this theatrical form challenges the audiences it encounters to discover answers to the many questions it poses.
Raven Knight’s “Memories of The Moon” is no exception to this theatrical form. It entices the audience by it’s beauty and magic soon to leave them to discover the same elements within themselves. The cast consist of characters who go beyond the obviously normal function of most plays. Instead, their usage is more like individual colors of a painting whose sum are greater than their parts. The cast combining their colors included Andrew Confair as Celeste, Luke Swierczek as Sylvanus (who also served in the Production’s Carpentry Department), Michelle Tuite as Kiwidinok, Kelly Perry as Dierdre, Angelo Revilla III* as Boy/Shadow, and Mervant Rivera as the Stage Hand.
The experimental elements of “Memories of the Moon” proved to be the most challenging of the three productions. It not only challenged the audience, but it also stretched the talents of the cast as well. Yet, it takes a very focused director who can remain open to a scattered reality to bring such a piece to fruition. The Director Amanda Kalinowski* demonstrated her considerable ability to sow the seeds and harvest the bountiful crop of ideas the play offers it audience in a manner the author would appreciate. Meg Dowling served the production as it’s Stage Manager.
The East Stroudsburg University (ESU)* Department of Theatre presentation of the Stage II* (the student theatrical club) production of their Student Directed One Act Plays included Sam Shepard’s “Fool For Love” as Directed by David Ausem* (who also served as the Production’s Assistant Set Designer as well as in the Carpentry, Sound Design, Costumes, and Property Departments), David Ives “Sure Thing” as Directed by Erica Moshette* (who also served in the Production’s Sound Design, Costumes, and Property Departments), and Raven Knight’s “Memories of the Moon” as Directed by Amanda Kalinowski* (who also served in the Production’s Sound Design, Costumes, and Property Departments). Rachel Mack* served as The Production Manager, Light Board Operator, and as a member of the Production’s Carpentry Department. Scott Ross served the Production as its Set and Lighting Designer along with being a member of the Production’s Carpentry Department with Robert McIntyre as Assistant Lighting Director along with being a member of the Production’s Carpentry Department. The Production’s Master Scene Painter was Anthony Garbarino* with AJ Cho* serving in the Sound Design, Costumes, and Property Departments. Shamus Halloran* served in the Box Office while Jenell Manzi* served as the House Manager.
This production of the Stage II* Student Directed One Act Plays will continue its run at The East Stroudsburg University (ESU)* in East Stroudsburg, PA at The University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center in it’s Dale Snow Theatre until February 8th and is recommended for those who would like to catch a glimpse of the future of theatre while enjoying a wonderful evening at the theatre. The next East Stroudsburg University (ESU)* in East Stroudsburg, PA production “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” will be presented April 14th - 19th. Please contact The East Stroudsburg University (ESU)* Theatre Department at 570-422-3483 for more information and to reserve your ticket.
No Photographs were allowed to be taken during the production.
(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.