CORVALLIS — Oregon State University Theatre will present 13 student-directed one- act plays starting on Wednesday, June 2, and running through Sunday, June 6.
Ten student directors direct 30 actors in the wide-ranging projects in this year’s one-act festival. There are so many plays this year, that they have been separated into two “panels” roughly 90 minutes each, that will alternate performances at the Withycombe Hall Main Stage Theatre. On Saturday, June 5, both panels will be shown with the first six plays, “Panel A” at a 2 p.m., followed by the next seven “Panel B” at 7:30 p.m.
Charlotte Headrick, a veteran theater professor, is supervising the 0ne-act festival this year. The student directors are also her students in an advanced directing class this term.
Alex Johnston, a junior in anthropology and theater arts from Forest Grove, directs “Variations on the Death of Trotsky” by David Ives, and is an actor in “The Red Coat” and “Take Time to Share.”
“I’ve done a lot of technical work and acting, but I’ve never stepped into the directing pants,” Johnston said. “The class is really fun. It’s the most stressful class I’ve ever been in – I’ve never worked so hard for three credits – but everyone is cohesive. It’s been really nice.”
Feygon Nickerson, a senior in theatre arts from Portland, directs both “Stars” by Romulus Linney and “Holographic Tiger Eats Man Trespassing in Trailer Park” by Leroy Clark. “Stars” deals with suicide. The project became especially meaningful to Nickerson after the recent suicide of a fellow student.
His second play “Holographic Tiger” is an amusing and cunning look at the class wars in this country. Nickerson directed “Golden Balls” in last year’s one act festival and “The Shape of Things” at OSU last year. He was also the assistant director for Linn-Benton Community College’s annual children’s play “Cool Suit,” earlier this year.
Kenny Arellano, a senior in English from The Dalles, directs “The Right to Remain” by Melanie Marnich. The play is about a family torn apart by lies.
“I thought there was a good opportunity to add some drama,” Arellano said of the script. “I also felt there was a decent amount of moments there that could make people laugh.”
Arellano was a writer for last year’s one act festival. This is his first time directing. “It’s a lot different than just sitting back as a writer. It’s a lot of attention to detail,” he said.
Tom Sabatino, a junior in Theatre Arts from Corvallis, directs the heartwarming “The Maker of Dreams” by Oliphant Downs.
“I chose it because I wanted something that was nice for families and everyone to watch,” he said.
Andrew Atkinson, a freshman in Theatre Arts and Computer Science from Medford, directs “The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year” by John Guare and acts in two Shel Silverstein shorts. Guare is an absurdist playwright, so Atkinson wanted to set his characters in a world free from rules. He decided to add a third character, a tree.
“The tree is not in the script,” he said. “The script talks about the leaves on the ground and references blue leaves. ... I saw it as a chance for more interaction.”
Heather Hewlett, a senior in Theatre Arts from Portland, is directing two short Shel Silverstein plays, “Best Daddy” and “No Skronking.”
“His work is quirky, it has a very different sense of humor,” Hewlett said about Silverstein, who is famous for his children’s books and poetry, but also had a wicked adult sense of humor that shines in these two works.
Hewlett has been active in theater projects at OSU, most recently as the assistant director and stage manager of “You Can’t Take It With You” and costume designer for “A Bright Room Called Day.”
Graduate student Taliesin Mihacsi of Portland is both the writer and director of “Take Time to Share: The Breast Cancer Awareness Project.”
“This play is about the struggle, loss and hope that can come from the battle against breast cancer,” she noted.
The play is a portion of her thesis project in Interdisciplinary Studies and a tribute to her mother, who died of breast cancer.
Niqi Silbaugh of Bend directs “Smoke Scenes” by Nick Zagone. The play takes on more than 50 variations on the theme of smoke. Everything from “Mind if I smoke?”/ “Mind if I die?” to an ode to “Lit’l Smokies ” sausages.
“I found it online actually,” she said. “I really wanted something different. It was the most unique one I could find.”
Like many, Silbaugh is a first time director. “It was a lot of fun,” she said. “My actors were amazing.”
Adrienne Underwood directs “A Wedding Story” by Julianne Homokay. In the play, the characters in a storybook take issue with some inaccuracies in the portrayal of their lives. Underwood grew up in Portland and now lives in Lebanon.
“‘A Wedding Story’ caught my eye, because the underlying theme is that life isn’t a fairy tale,” Underwood noted. She’s looking forward to audience reaction to the humorous play, saying, “You’re never quite sure how the audience is going to react to alternate lifestyles ...”
Chiaki Horan, an exchange student from Tokyo, Japan, directs both the dark and stomach-twisting “Fugue” about a serial killer’s victims by Laura Elizabeth Miller and the effervescent romantic comedy “The Red Coat” by John Patrick Shanley.
“I really wanted something emotionally different,” she said about her divergent selections.
“I wanted to show how much they would experience if they hadn’t died,” she said about the girls who are portrayed in the devastatingly sad “Fugue.” Yet, just a few minutes later her second play transforms the energy in the room. In fact, during a recent rehearsal of “The Red Coat” there was so much “ahhing” and laughter in the audience that the actors could barely hold it together until the blackout at the end of the scene.
Julie Hanano was the student costume designer for all 13 plays under the guidance of Barbara Mason. The scenery was supervised by George Caldwell and Jordan Brinck.
Tickets for each panel of plays are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for youth and $4 for OSU students. Online tickets can be purchased at www.oregonstate.edu/dept/theatre. For information, call 541-737-2784 or 541-737-2853.