Half the acts, four times the fun

A preview of Ripon College’s annual One Act Play Festival
By Jenna Schoenmann

On April 13 and 14, the Ripon College Theater Department will put on its annual One Act Play Festival as a send off for the department’s four seniors: Mikey Ambrowiak, Michael Baumhardt, David Firari and Sophie Widman. Each senior was given the challenge to direct a one act play between 20 and 30 minutes that includes only three to five characters. After digging and reading through dozens of plays for the past few months, here are the shows they chose:

Karma- written by Anne Flanagan and directed by Mikey Ambrowiak
Karma follows the story of Paul Redding, an average guy who finds himself in a DMV-styled Purgatory. The show carries the audience through the shenanigans that occur as Paul confronts his past and is bullied by the clerk, all while hanging between life and death.

Plan B- written by Robert Scott and directed by Michael Baumhardt
Plan B­ is about a dysfunctional couple, Richie and Susan, who wind up spending their anniversary in an emergency room after Richie injures himself while attempting to make dinner. The show follows the not-so-happy couple night and their encounters with the eccentric Belinda.

Mere Mortals- written by David Ives and directed by David Firari
Mere Mortals follows a conversation between Joe, Frank and Charlie, three seemingly average construction workers on their lunch break at work. As the show unfolds, the three reveal secrets about their past and turn out to be much more than they seem.

Words, Words, Words- written by David Ives and directed by Sophie Widman
Words, Words, Words is a surrealist representation of the Infinite Monkey Theorem- “a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type the complete works of William Shakespeare.” This show looks into the world of Kafka, Milton, and Swift, three laboratory chimps who are stuck in front of typewriters, even if they aren’t exactly happy about it.
According to the directors, the shows couldn’t be coming along better, and they credit a big part of the success to their actors. Ambrowiak said, “It’s going really well. I’m really proud of all my actors, they’re all working really hard and we’re all enjoying being here.”

Along the same lines, Baumhardt said, “It’s coming along incredibly well… my cast is incredibly talented. It’s nice being able to be part of their journey as they progress into their acting careers.”

According to Widman, “It’s been wonderful to have [the actors’] enthusiasm and excitement for it all… even though I’ve already seen this show so many different times, I’m still cracking up in the audience every time I see them do [the show].”

When it comes to challenges, the directors shared a similar obstacle: technical production. For Ambrowiak, it was lighting that gave her trouble. She said, “This play has a lot of weird lighting cues, so an important thing was talking to our lighting designer, Jimmy [Balistreri], and figuring out how exactly we’re able to do them.”

Similarly, Widman said her technical roadblock was “trying to figure out how we were going to get a tire swing on stage, but that was honestly fixed right away.”

As for Firari, he said, “We had to figure out how to recreate the 50th floor of a mid-construction skyscraper on state, but the crew did an excellent job solving that issue.” They all shared a similar gratitude for the crew and stage managers.
Above all else, the four senior directors are most excited for the audience to join in on the laughs.

“I’m really excited for other people to finally be able to see it and see all the work that the actors have been putting into it, and to just actually have someone laughing aside from myself” Ambrowiak said.

Editor’s Note: For the purpose of transparency, Jenna Schoenmann is an actor in one of the One Act plays.