Though all four student- and alumni-written productions that premiered last Friday night had no set or costumes, they were full of dynamic characters and emotional energy. With all characters dressed in black, sitting at music stands with their lines in front of them, and the director sitting in the corner of the stage, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The first of the four one-act plays was “Heathens,” by sophomore Miranda Curtis. In this show, Gabe comes home from college and sees his old friend, Ella. It is soon evident that Ella is bitter about Gabe’s leaving, while she was left alone in their hometown to suffer the consequences of having an abortion in a small, religious town. Both actors, sophomore Djaq Morris and senior Micah Snow-Cobb, did an excellent job of conveying a lot of emotion with every line. For only having one act, it was incredibly intense and well written.
The second play was “War,” by senior Niki Acton. This play was equally as serious and emotionally charged as the first, but in a much different and subtler way. “War” is the story of a young married couple, Tucker and Lucy, played by freshman Gilberto Martinez and senior Elizabeth Tweedy. The power has gone out in their house, and because of a medical condition, Tucker cannot go to sleep or he could die. Because Tucker is not allowed to fall asleep, Lucy has to stay awake as well to keep him up. This lack of sleep brings to light a variety of problems in their marriage, bringing tears to the eyes of several audience members.
The most comedic of the four plays was “BASEMENT: A Parable,” by Isaac Allen Miller ‘12. Though it was funny, and the cast did an excellent job of keeping straight faces through all of the jokes, it was difficult for me to discern the point of the story. There didn’t seem to be any real resolution, though the story was obviously at an end. Junior Trevor Marshall was a real standout in his role as Christian, who is kidnapped by Gracie and kept in her basement as the result of a practical joke on her brother. I think the plot and character relationships could have been much clearer, and I felt that some of the jokes and plot points were a little obscure.
The last of the four plays was “HELA,” by Jessie Salsbury ‘99. Freshman Peibulu Koroye was absolutely phenomenal, the only actor sitting at a music stand front and center on the stage. The play was about HeLa cells, which were taken unknowingly from an African American woman with cancer in the 1950’s, Henrietta Lacks. It centered around the immorality of the cells being taken and tested without consent, juxtaposed with all of the progress that has been achieved because of research on those cells. The voice shifts from several different women, including Henrietta and her daughter. This one-act was a powerful, emotional experience, that also had myself and many others in tears.