The New Student Play Festival was the theatrical experience of the semester
As an artist, any chance to present your work is welcome. The New Student Play Festival, which kicked off on December 11, was the perfect opportunity for theater performers of all kinds to do so.
The event, which featured both a matinee at 2 p.m. and an evening performance at 7:30 p.m., was truly one of a kind. With over 15 performances, the festival lasted just over two hours, with every moment devoted to entertaining and engaging audiences.
A further round of applause is to be given to artistic directors Erwin Guerrero, Mikaela Koran, Lana Kurimoto and Emilia Siracusa, all graduates in theater studies, as well as to Gwen Streitman, in second year of theater studies.
Upon entering the lobby of Studio 1200, you were immediately involved in interactive and engaging exhibits, several of which involved asking members of the public what they thought of controversial topics such as sexuality, gender, sexual assault, rape, personal relationships and intimacy. It was a great way to engage and prepare the audience for several theatrical performances containing these precise themes. It was clear that everyone involved had a passion for these topics, and that passion manifested itself even before the performances began.
There was rarely a point where the audience wasn’t fully immersed in the performance, as there was laughter, clapping, booing, screaming, and even crying at times. Several spectators even reacted to the performances with well-placed exclamations.
The notable play that caught the public’s attention the most was “The Way Boys Treat Me” by theater student Zoe LeRose. Centered on the story of a young woman’s romantic encounters, the article was hilarious and poignant.
Acting major junior actress Haley Amann had members of the audience standing up, making some of them scream “Girl, no!” When she would highlight another red flag in a man who is interested in her. LeRose’s writing talent is undeniable and Amann’s acting is done to perfection.
Tribute is also due to the remarkable design put on in the festival which is made up of excellent sound, lighting and makeup. As a big theater consumer, design is something I got used to. I rarely, or others, get excited about the design aspects of the production, but this festival has broken the mold for me and many others.
The lighting was nothing short of exemplary. Mimicking sunsets, neon lights, and even sci-fi effects were all accomplished with flying colors. The sound was engaging and ardently creative. The music between tracks immediately sets the tone. The screening was also something to celebrate.
This was especially evident in young film major Tanasia Davis-Ramsey’s play “INFINITE”, which was a triumph of literature, direction, and design. The design of the room, done with a huge projection showing the best and the worst of humanity, was amazing. Stunning visuals filled the scene.
Performers Emery Myers, a junior theater studies student, and Tatum Thompson, a junior business student, also stood out in all creative categories, demonstrating absolute mastery of their craft. Their chemistry and audience mastery was a wonder to watch. Spectators were talking about the play in the hall even after the festival ended.
The production of the festival itself was also wonderful. Amann was sure to praise it.
“The very beginning was the development of New Play, so from [the start] there was this super helpful feedback from other people, ”Amann said. “It was extremely helpful from the start. Kaitlin Stilwell is an amazing teacher, and she worked so hard to put that into place. “
Besides acting, Amann also had a fantastic piece in the festival titled “Bearing Child”. The play dealt with the consequences and perspectives of motherhood through an accessible lens. A man and a woman have a date where they discuss the subject of having children.
Amann wanted to take an educational and sincere approach to the topic of motherhood in his work.
“What I really wanted to emphasize is that being a mother and having children is not the story of a person who identifies with a woman,” Amann said. “This includes women with health problems, financially struggling and trans women. “
Another festival piece that benefited from an excellent production process was “God’s Image,” which examined the extreme anxiety that comes with just existing in today’s world.
Its author, Nina DiNorscio, an acting major freshman, was involved in the production from the start.
“I had the benefit of being a part of the casting process from the start,” said DiNorscio. “My good friend [actress Sydney Coleman] was thrown in something I wrote. Then I was able to modify the room to suit his style.
Coleman, a major acting freshman, is a triple threat artist. His acting was impeccable, but his movements and character choices solidified the performance.
“The piece was so liberating,” Coleman said. “Mainly because we had to change it for how I felt, and we had to change it to something that made more sense to me personally. It was so good to bring out those feelings because we’re usually so afraid to talk about it.
Audience member Gina Spagnuolo, an English major junior, expressed her feelings about the performance.
“I thought some of the pieces were very good,” said Spagnuolo. “Some were a little wrong, but most were very powerful.”
The festival is after all something worth playing every year, if not every semester. It was a great experience for everyone involved and deserves all the praise she receives. If the theater program knew what was good for them, they would make this event a staple in their lineup.