A night of Dramashop's student written One-Acts
Rita H. Lin -- The Tech
Richard Thompkins '98 and Jon Levene G in Auditions, written by Rob Marcato G. It was one of three student-written plays performed last weekend as part of Dramashop's One-Acts.
By Teresa Huang
With their annual showcase of student-written, student-directed one act plays, Dramashop has shown once again that there are true artists at MIT. The talent that they gather in the writers, directors, and production staff is amazing and the maturity of the actors in all their productions is impressive. The results of this year's trio of scripts are no different. Each with its own look, theme, and atmosphere, the Dramashop One-Acts continue to develop the talent of new writers and directors while achieving the gloss of great theater.
The evening's first play, Edgewordwise by Anand Sarwate '01, was short but made quite a statement. The dialogue between the lone characters Julian (Ira F. Gerhardt '99) and Vivian (Jacqueline Kirtley G) explores the idea of finishing another person's thoughts. Julian constantly finishes Vivian's sentences and feels justified while Vivian asserts that there's a difference between interrupting and completing. As the wordplay escalates between the two, their sentences start to merge into each other until you're not sure who started what sentence.
Almost completely void of set design and lighting cues, the words themselves were in focus. Sarwate's clever script was a real test of intensity for actors Gerhardt and Kirtley. With the dialogue switching almost instantaneously and getting faster, they really had to work together and trust each other to be comfortable enough with the text to keep the play going. The faster the words got, the more challenging it was. They handled the task with seeming ease, producing some truly humorous and impressive moments and bringing a general snappiness to the text.
The second play of the evening, Auditions, was an impressive achievement for playwright Rob Marcato G, who acted in last year's fall One-Acts production of Cyril and Harry. Through the lives of two roommates and a series of glimpses into an audition, Marcato's play explores themes of rejection, disappointment, and failure. The characters he's created are real and the interaction between them and the simple pieces of the set are believable and skilled.
The meat of the plot revolves around two roommates and the different ways in which they take risks. Eric (Richard Thompkins '98) is a struggling actor who auditions a lot, but can't seem to get cast as anything but a criminal. Still, he tries. His roommate Danny (Jon Levene G), on the other hand, is not as daring when it comes to his life and women. Eric notices that his roommate goes to the Film Forum a lot, though Danny insists he's only interested in the old movies. We see later that he actually goes to meet Nora (Nadia Muna '99), a woman he's been meeting for several weeks. Nora asks Danny to dinner, and the way he handles the invitation shows us a lot about his fear of rejection.
The drama is interjected with audition scenes similar to the opening scene between the auditioner and a random actor. They serve as both a foreshadowing technique for the finale of the play as well as another space for the play's themes to be explored. Everyone in the play handles rejection and disappointment differently. As an actor, Eric has dealt with plenty of disappointment, but he continues to audition in hopes that the perfect part will eventually come along. Above all other characters, Danny represents fear of rejection. He blows off a real date with Nora and tries to hide his fear in rationalization. He can't even begin to think about a relationship because he's afraid. Even successes in his past aren't enough to inspire him to try.
The final audition scene gives the play closure as Eric himself auditions for Dick with a piece his roommate Danny has written. His audition is remarkable because though Eric speaks, he's speaking words from Danny's mind which recognize his fear of failure, making his character even more interesting. The idea that his fear and regret are somehow part of him and that he accepts it and acknowledges it enough to write it on paper is astonishing.
The final play of the evening was Triple Fable, written by Eddie Kohler G. Perhaps you remember his whimsical play, Five Fake Dreams in Six Short Scenes, from last year's One Acts? Kohler has certainly outdone himself with a new script that is much more fierce and calm at the same time.
Directed by Dramashop veteran Monica Y. Gomi '96, Triple Fable is narrated by Kate (Elizabeth Stoehr G), who sits in an arm chair next to a standing lamp at stage right and exudes an incredible warmth about her. She tells the story of two men. The central character is Adam, played by freshman Peter A. Shulman '01 with a wide-eyed innocence and emptiness of a boy without a place in the world. The other story is of Max (Paul Konigsberg '98), a man with a definite place that is killed in the crossfire. Kohler's characters tell their own stories in terrifically vivid yet ambiguous soliloquies, each providing a curious looks into that person's mind.
Adam was the most remarkable character because he doesn't belong anywhere, really. He maintains a strange lack of emotion, just as the production maintains a lack of light, props, and embellishment. Adam is caught in the world, feeling a million things yet nothing at all. The emptiness reflected in his eyes and soul is present in everything in his life - at his desk job, at home, and at his job on the farm.
The story told by Kate weaves through the lives and experiences of all the characters, explaining so much and yet nothing at all. Ambiguity in clarity seems to be Kohler's specialty, and this script is no less than brilliant when it comes to the deceptive technique of giving the audience flashes of insight into the characters while really giving them much more.
All three plays in Dramashop's fall event were excellently scripted, directed, and acted by a talented score of individuals. The organization continues to give great opportunities for student talent to shine, and this year's one-act plays were no exception.