Though Franciscan’s mainstage play will end on April 15, the great feast for the imagination need not end there. The theatre department will be offering more drama, more art, more talent and certainly more entertainment to immerse oneself in this year. Running from April 26 to April 29, the senior one act plays will feature what senior Joshua Cash calls “a culmination of all the experience and education of the senior theatre major.”
“They are better than some people might expect them to be” said Patricia Voigt, a senior drama major. “We are well prepared.” Although “student-directed” may carry a negative connotation on the level of quality, Voigt wanted to assure audiences that the one acts are actually very good. After all, they are a product of almost a year’s amount of work and four years’ worth of training.
Senior Chris Haefner said that “the senior one acts are the epitome of what every Franciscan theatre major student lives up to acquire.” Having been a part of the program for four years, these seniors have learned everything they possibly can about theatre. This includes acting, theatre history, literature, stagecraft, how to light a show and how to stage manage, said Voigt.
As Voigt explained, the final journey really began with their junior year when they chose a one act play, ranging somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes long. During the spring of their junior year, their plays were pre-approved so that they could begin understanding and analyzing them over the summer and into their senior year. They also took several directing classes at this time to help them ease into the role of director.
Even though most of the seniors had never directed any full-scale production before, “the department is set up so well that it’s easy to get into it,” Voigt said. As she describes it, the theatre students go from learning what directing is to directing scenes and finally onto directing an entire show.
Also, Haefner emphasized the guidance the seniors have received, saying, “Our professors have been here working beside us along the way, making sure we don’t fall flat on our faces and giving us help for whatever we need.”
Stepping into the role of director has not been without its challenges, though. Each of them had to learn the technical side of directing which requires paperwork and budgeting. Additionally, it was difficult for the seniors to collaborate with each other since there are three one act plays and only one stage to work with.
Voigt explained that most of the time, unless you are the only student director, “you have to end up modifying what you originally had, especially if one of the other directors is working with a show that is vastly different from your own.” The light, the sound and even the way that the stage is set up will depend on the needs of the other one acts. Essentially, it’s all a matter of compromise.
This year, there will be three different one act plays, each one being different from the other.
Joshua Cash will be directing a contemporary dramedy called “Among Friends and Clutter,” which follows seven characters at different points in their lives. Cash describes it as “a slice of life,” and he wants the audience to “feel as if they are on the stage.”
Chris Haefner’s one act is “Brothers Menaechmus,” an ancient Roman play written by Plautus. Interestingly, it served as Shakespeare’s inspiration for his play “The Comedy of Errors.” This fact intrigued Haefner greatly and contributed to the reason why he chose to direct it. He wondered, “Why did Shakespeare look at this for one of his own plays?” and he went forward with this question in mind, trying to seek its answer.
The third one act, directed by Patricia Voigt, is entitled “The Will.” It is a French comedy of the mid- to late eighteenth century. Voigt explained that it’s about “an orchestra of people that all think that they’re the conductor.” With all the pomp and flair that this French play has to offer, it is essentially “a dramatic representation of our own faults and follies,” she said.
After all the time and hard work put into these one acts, the final performances will surely leave the audience feeling pleased and satisfied. “Also,” added Voigt, “don’t be afraid to laugh!”