Theatre — The Festival

The Festival

by Michelle Saturley

St. Anselm gets edgy One-act play fest puts students in the director’s chair

Students at Saint Anselm College are gearing up for the annual One-Act Play Festival, held at the Dana Center. The student-directed one-act plays run the gamut from comical to psychological in subject matter. Two of the three featured plays were written by the students.

Dr. Landis K. Magnuson, who runs the drama department at Saint Anselm, says that the three student directors spent most of their winter break preparing for their turn in the director’s chair.

“The Festival opens on Feb. 10, and the directors cast their shows the first week back from holiday break, so they don’t get a whole lot of time to rehearse,” Magnuson said. “But they do an excellent job. It’s a challenge, both for the actors and the directors involved.”

Magnuson said that although the school is a Catholic college, he likes to give the students some latitude with subject matter.

“If there is subject matter or language that might be a little edgy for some of our faculty, I try to discuss it with the director before the final decisions are made, to make sure it’s integral to the story,” he said. “If the student feels that it’s not gratuitous, we can usually work it in.”

Playwright and director Brianne Clegg, an English major, says the casting process was surprisingly smooth. All of the actors chosen for the three pieces are St. Anselm students.

“I think all three of the directors were happy with the audition turnout,” she said. “I know I’m very happy with my cast.”

Clegg co-wrote the romantic comedy Confined Spaces with her fiance, Ian Brown. She has served as a performer and as stage manager on Anselmian Abbey Players shows, including the upcoming Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The short play takes place in an elevator, where two very different people are trapped. One is a preppy, metro-sexual man while the other is an earthy hippie-chick.

“The idea for this play actually started as another idea,” Clegg said. “I wanted to write a show about two women in a ladies’ bathroom having a conversation where all the audience can see is their feet. But, I realized that the staging for that would be too static. So I decided to change it to an elevator, and have the characters be a male and a female. It’s the old ‘opposites attract’ story, with a twist.”

Another student, senior Kyp Pilalas, co-wrote and directs Shades of Black, a psychological piece about the origins of different people’s phobias and how they deal with them. The show flashes between past and present, explaining how various individuals developed certain phobias after childhood experiences. Pilalas took a delightful turn on the Dana Center stage in last year’s production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He co-wrote the script with fellow students Cara Devins and Steve Lewis.

Rounding out the trio of student-directed plays is Oh, What a Tangled Web, directed by Julie Brodeur. This play is a screwball comedy containing a series of misunderstandings about a sick cat and a possibly dead sister who, as it turns out, just wanted the day off from work. Brodeur is a junior who plans on majoring in English. This is her first time directing.

“I am looking forward to working with this cast,” Brodeur said. “We’re going to have fun with this material. I hope the audience does too.”

The One Act Play Festival will be held at the Dana Center, located on the campus of Saint Anselm College, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Thursday – Sunday, Feb. 10-12. Showtime for each evening is 8 p.m. Tickets are $7. Call the Dana Center Box Office at 641-7700.

-Michelle Saturley

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