By Thomas Infante
The spotlights above the Don Evans Black Box Theatre stage illuminated four student writers and directors on Friday, April 20. As they described the themes of their plays, spectators anticipated a compelling show for All College Theatre’s Evening of One Act Shorts.
Each short play was entirely student written, directed and acted. The audience saw a mixture of seriousness and comedy, with many convincing and passionate performances.
The first short of the night, titled “This is a Play (And Someone Dies at the End),” was directed by junior technology education major Evan Noone. The story centered on five stereotypical characters.
The play began with otherworldly music. Suddenly, it stopped as a spotlight cut through the darkness and shone upon sophomore history and secondary education dual major Casey O’Neill.
“Oh! This is a play!” O’Neill exclaimed after looking around confusedly in the dark for a while. He soon donned himself the story’s Protagonist.
He was joined by his friend Comic Relief, played by senior chemistry major Eric Schreiber. His character was essentially a walking cliché, whose antics included silliness like sweeping while singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
In the most stereotypical way possible, Protagonist met Love Interest, played by sophomore music education major Angie Francese.
“Hi, I’m nerdy, but with a certain eclectic charm you can’t resist,” Love Interest said.
She is betrothed to Antagonist, played by sophomore marketing major Gail Cevallos.
When Love Interest confronts Antagonist about her role, Antagonist reveals that she never wanted to be a villain, but was robbed of the chance to be the hero of the play.
Meanwhile, Comic Relief stumbles upon the script. Once he realizes that the dialogue within corresponds to what is going on in the play, the title spurs him to show the script to his friends, worried that one of them will soon die. He brings it to the confrontation between Protagonist and Antagonist, hoping that it will resolve the conflict peacefully.
Protagonist takes the script, insisting that they must fight because fate demands it, while Antagonist pleads with him to let it go. She attempts to take it from him by force, and after a brief struggle, Protagonist is killed.
With the script, Comic Relief recites the final lines of the other characters with them, and concludes the play by reading the stage directions to exit.
The second play, “Dating Cigarettes,” was directed by senior interactive multimedia major Haley Witko.
The story began with the main character Alex, played by senior communication studies major Kirsten Gassler, sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette. Alex is a college upperclassman that struggles with feeling isolated and unfulfilled from her life at college.
Alex’s best friend Emma, played by sophomore English and secondary education dual major Joely Torres, calls Alex. The two live far apart, and Emma obviously cares about her and is concerned about her friend’s smoking habit and feelings of depression.
After hanging up, Alex runs into her friend Matt, played by sophomore management major Anthony Sofia.
Matt starts a conversation and eventually tells her that he is transferring. Alex is resentful, and Matt gets argumentative, saying that she should understand how it feels to be lonely at college.
As the conversation progresses, things get stranger until it is revealed that Matt is a figment of Alex’s imagination. Alex admits that she smokes to remind herself of him.
She throws her cigarette on the ground, proclaiming “no more,” and walks off stage. Matt stomps on the cigarette which cuts the lights, ending the play.
Witko, who made her collegiate directorial debut with “Dating Cigarettes,” said that is was a challenge to convey abstract ideas and concepts through her script.
“It can be a huge challenge when it comes to letting people go,” Witko said. “It was tough to get the right pattern in the dialogue, and to establish that pattern for the audience. It had to be done in a way that felt very natural.”
The third play, “Room 216,” was directed by senior interdisciplinary business major Natalia Byrdak, who said that the short focuses on ”what is unsaid rather than what is said.”
The story revolves around two college freshman roommates. Cassie, played by freshman English major Cali Blanchard, is a shy biology major, whereas Alex, played by freshman art education major Megan Scarborough, is an outgoing journalism major.
Cassie and Alex bond quickly despite their differences. Cassie is studious and focused, foiling Alex, who said she is “not really a writer,” despite studying journalism.
At first, Alex went out of her way to include Cassie, but as time progressed, Alex started disappearing for days at a time to go get high with her new boyfriend.
One night, Alex comes home late, nearly blacked out. The two share a heart-to-heart, and Alex reveals inner feelings of bitterness and cynicism that seem to be eating away at her. They talk about the stars, which Alex hates along with everything else, but Cassie does her best to convince her of their inherent beauty and majesty.
The next day, Alex buys Cassie cling-on glow-in-the-dark stars, telling her that now she can always look at the stars. She then leaves to take a call from her mom, and is not seen again.
The final scene features Cassie by herself in her dorm room, accompanied only by a note left on Alex’s bed. She explains that Alex has committed suicide, depriving Cassie of the chance to tell her that she had fallen in love with her. She laments on her lost opportunity, with an impassioned monologue that she ends by wishing she had gotten to tell Alex that all stars are beautiful, even though “some burn brighter than others.”
The final short, “Lox,” was directed by senior graphic design major Rob Birnbohm.
The story centers on Dan, played by sophomore communication studies major Jason Monto. Dan is a recent college graduate who earns good money at a job that he hates. He lives alone, accompanied by the imaginary friend he swears exists named Lox, played by freshman interactive multimedia Dylan Jonas. Lox is an orange ghost with a blue puff atop his head that resembled a Truffula Tree from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.”
Dan’s only real friend is his ex-girlfriend Cheryl, played by sophomore elementary education and psychology double major Kate Augustin, who comes over every Thursday for take out and conversation. Cheryl is dismayed by the childlike regressions Dan has made since their graduation.
She tries to push Dan toward pursuing his college dreams of writing and acting, but Dan dismisses these as pipe dreams. After Cheryl storms out in frustration, Lox helps Dan realize that his personal relationships are more important than his current lifestyle. Lox bids Dan a final farewell, leaving Dan truly alone to call Cheryl.
After “Lox” concluded, the audience responded with thunderous applause as the entire cast came back out and took a bow. More than anything, the directors of the plays credited their acting and production staff with the amazing outcome.
“I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out,” said Noone, whose first time it was directing a production. “I’m so proud of everyone, it was a daunting task, but I’m very grateful to have the support of the entire cast.”