For one weekend, theatre students are in charge of their own productions. The One Act Play festival opened Friday night and featured five one act plays all directed by students.
The One Act Play festival is a culmination of a directing course made up of both graduate and undergraduate students. These students go from learning how to direct a play in the classroom to moving the production to the stage and directing it themselves.
Oliver Mayes is a first year graduate directing student and directed his first play, Ikke Ikke Nye Nye Nye, a Danish play by Lanford Wilson, in the festival. Mayes said it’s interesting to see how what goes on in the classroom comes to life on stage.
“We each have our own play and oversee aspects of that,” Mayes said. “We work together to put the festival together. Theatre is truly a collaboration so we’re not in charge of [everyone] but their work has to reflect our aesthetic show but we also have to honor their craft.”
Students began preparing for the One Act Plays at the beginning of the semester, but the directing students knew what their plays were going to be far in advance.
Mayes said he was drawn to directing because of all the ideas he wants to bring to life onstage.
“The entire process of working with other actors and getting the best out of them and ensuring they’re having a good time,” Mayes said. “As a director, you really have to understand how it all works and you have to want to collaborate. Being a director, what I’m looking forward to is having our work showcased and having people enjoy it.”
Not only did students direct the One Act Plays, but two of them wrote their own plays to be performed. Isaac Otterman wrote An American Tragedy and Tess Jones wrote Porkchop, both of which were comedies.
Jones is a senior acting major and said the One Act Play Festival is a great way to showcase the talent in the USD theatre department.
“My experiences with the one acts have been great, because I love collaborating with my classmates and just having fun putting on a show,” Jones said. “It’s exciting. I feel like everyone has a lot of creativity to give, and the one acts are a great way to show off talent from all theatre disciplines.”
Jones wrote Porkchop for the One Act Play Festival, which was originally supposed to be a ten minute play, but was expanded after a handful of her classmates performed it.
Jones said she based the play on her own personal experience.
“Porkchop is a very dark comedy about a woman who goes to her new boyfriend’s apartment for a date,” Jones said. “Throughout the course of the night she slowly begins to realize that his dog, Porkchop, won’t let anyone come between the two of them.”
First year musical theatre major Patrick Simonsen played Clark in Porkchop. Simonsen said he enjoyed being a part of a student written production.
“I play a lot of funny characters so it’s fun to revisit those characters and be able to see these university productions brought to life,” Simonsen said. “With a one act, it’s easier to develop a character, but it can also be harder because you don’t get the full character. It’s easier in terms of getting the lines down and getting the character worked out, but also you get less time to figure it all out so you’re kind of rushing.”
The One Act Plays are just one of the many productions the USD theatre department puts on. Mayes said he hopes people enjoyed the one acts and come to many more productions in the future.
“I think people should know that we want as many people in to come to all the shows because theatre is a really cool thing to experience,” Mayes said. “I feel like a lot of people forget that when we have access to Netflix and Hulu and all these things that are perfectly wonderful, but live performance is really important.”