One Acts at center stage
By KATHRYN STUTZ
The final project of the students in Professor Jess Smith’s Directing Class, the One Acts Festival—beginning on Dec. 9—includes 15 different shows by 15 different directors.
All of the plays, whether short dramas, monologues or scenes from larger works, will be spread out over the course of the three days. There will be five productions each night, creating an exciting and concentrated theatrical event in under an hour—no intermissions.
“Half the class has been about learning: styles of visual storytelling, and figuring out how to block out scenes to best communicate ideas. The other half of the class is about putting on the [One Acts] Festival,” Robyn Helwig, a student director of a One Act and one of the festival’s two PR managers, said.
The festival counts for “most of the grade,” Helwig said. “It’s a class that’s required for theatre majors, so it’s mostly juniors and seniors.”
However, many members of the class have never been in charge of a project of this scale before.
“Some of us have never done this before…a lot of it’s brand new,” Helwig said.
In addition to being responsible for their own individual show, each person has other jobs as well. “Each director also has a role like audition coordinator or PR manager,” Helwig said.
As PR manager, Helwig’s job entails spreading awareness about the productions across the University, and orchestrating media coverage of the event in general.
The past few weeks have been busy for the student directors. All the work leading up to the productions requires the same dedication and effort as preparing for an intricate senior thesis presentation, or conducting a professional final research project.
As Helwig described, the process began with finding student volunteers to perform in the One Acts.
“The first day was initial auditions, where a large group of Puget Sound students read from randomly pulled monologues…then the directors coordinated to schedule callback auditions—everyone got at least one callback. Each director chose an ideal cast and some alternates, and then we got into the convoluted bargaining and trading,” Helwig said.
“Out of 71 audition-ees, 35 were cast in the final productions, and everyone accepted their roles,” Helwig said.
The exclusivity of the coveted acting roles means every actor and actress is particularly excited and passionate about the project.
Smith’s students are now deep into the rehearsal process, getting completely prepared for the performances this coming week. “It’s very polished,” Helwig said. “Each show only gets one performance, only gets one shot.”
The One Acts will be performed on Dec. 9, 10 and 11, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Norton Clapp Theatre, located in Jones Hall. Tickets are $2 a night and are sold only at the door.