By: Hannah Tetzlaff
The Ripon College Theatre Department came together for the One Act Play Festival, April 14-16, to send off their department seniors in their last production before graduation.
After spending four years at Ripon College, being involved in play productions, acting alongside fellow actors, and learning the ways of the theatre, these seniors had their “curtain call”: JaneMarie Erickson, Enya Nett, London Mosher, Caroline Lundt, and College Days’s Editor-in-Chief Connor Cummiskey, along with their fellow course-mate Addie McCauley ’17.
The One Act Play Festival is the senior capstone for those majoring in Theatre and is connected to the theatre course Senior Seminar in Directing Theories and Practices taught by Theatre Professor Kenneth Hill. For the course, each student becomes a director for their own one act. Each one act has to be 20-30 minutes long, can only have three to five characters, and can not have been produced in the last five years.
“The goal of the one acts is to be the senior capstone, to make sure that the theater majors can put everything all together but also to provide a festival for one act plays so that we get a lot different new playwrights out there and also to give […] lots of people a chance to be on stage” says Hill.
A few of the student directors disclosed what it is was like to produce a play and direct a cast of their peers.
“Directing takes a lot of listening,” says student director McCauley. “While you do have to ‘direct’ the actors, you also have to listen to them to make sure that everything can be heard, that it makes sense, and that they are developing their character well. Actors are very smart, you also have to listen to their ideas and feelings because they may give you an idea that is better than anything you could come up with.”
A few of the actors auditioned for the one act plays, knowing it would be their last time to work with the seniors.
“I tried out for the One Acts because I enjoy theatre and I knew this would be my last opportunity to work with these people that’ve helped me so much my first year here,” says Jimmy Balistreri ’19. “The scripts themselves were very good too, and I was excited to get to work with mine.”
The actors commented on their experience working under a student director and the improvements they saw in their director.
Allison Macknick ’17 states, “To go from acting/working alongside them to having them be the directors is a really rewarding experience. It’s amazing to see so many friends take on this challenge, going from student to master. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Senior Brian Fristch upheld that assessment of the directors, “I actually commented to my director one day, ‘You didn’t look like a student when you were sitting around discussing lighting cues. You looked like a professional director that knows what she wants.’ She really seemed to be less timid in voicing what she wanted as rehearsal progressed. She made it more of ‘her show.’”
It wasn’t just the student directors that did an impeccable job but the actors as well. The student directors gave many praises for the actors.
“I am so very proud of my actresses and all of the work that they put into this show, I was not disappointed with their performances at all,” says McCauley.
Senior Caroline Lundt, also, was very pleased with her cast. “I was surprised by how self-directed my cast was,” says Lundt. “It was a pleasure working with such an eager cast.”
The success lies not just with the student directors but with everyone.
As McCauley put it so poignantly, “This is by no means a one person accomplishment. All of the directors including myself had the assistance of a fantastic stage crew team, our wonderful professors, and top notch actors, without those people we would not have been able to pull this off.”
Everyone came together to make the One Act Play Festival an overwhelming success and to send off the theatre department seniors with pride in their hearts.