Students gathered last weekend for Masque and Gown’s 80th Annual One-Act Competition, which began Friday evening with three distinctly different pieces, five to 10 minutes each. Bowdoin students wrote, directed and acted in each play.
The winner of Friday’s competition advanced to a multi-college One-Act festival on Saturday, where they performed alongside winners from Colby and Bates in Bowdoin’s Kresge Auditorium.
The One-Act Festival gives students with minimal theater experience the chance to immerse themselves in the creative process of putting together an original production. Ben Rosenbloom ’14 directed “The Game,” his first show, and described the experience as a “low-pressure way into theater and a fun learning experience.”
One-Acts is characterized by a very short preparation time. Jamie Weisbach ’16, director of “Comedy Play“ called the process “speed theater.” Actors have a mere two weeks of rehearsal.
Axis Fuksman-Kumpa ’17, director of the winning show “Kindness, I suppose,” found success in her first directing attempt. She called the process a “whirlwind endeavor” in which she was “overwhelmingly impressed and surprised by her castmates.”
In “Kindness, I suppose,” a dark comical production, the scene takes places in a bar. There, Poncho (Stanford Spurlock ’14) and Lefty (Nicolas Magalhaes ’15) drink away their regrets over their late friend Santi. Equipped with mobster accents and business suits, the duo trades spit-fire jokes, threats and general debauchery as they nostalgically challenge their careers as professional killers. Writer Noah Bragg ’15 twists the plot when we learn that Lefty hired a killer to do away with Poncho outside the bar. Despite Lefty’s honest last-minute attempt to dismantle the plan, Poncho is murdered and Lefty is alone to drown in his own guilt.
“The Game,” written by Logan Taylor ’17, tells the story of Scott Genarro, a young lawyer distraught with the dilemma of defending underrepresented labor workers from the exploitative power of his big-business father. Genarro (Lucas Shaw ’16) struggles to establish his moral compass as his father (Trevor Murray ’16) encourages him to avoid a career defending the “little guy.” Ultimately, Genarro follows his instinct but loses the David-and-Goliath fight against his father’s corporate power.
The scene switches to a bare bedroom for “Comedy Play,” which centers around Harrison, an average, albeit tense and edgy, man who wakes up able to see and respond to the audience from his bedside. Harrison (Luke Scheuer ’17) grows angry, resentful and confused, pleading with the audience to leave him alone. He then realizes that his wife Jenna cannot see the audience. His surmounting paranoia drives Jenna, played by Emily Shiang ’17, out of the house, and Harrison is left in the fishbowl of his bedroom. Stripped of all dignity, he submits to the pressure of the spotlight, foolishly pie-ing himself in the face, dramatically slipping on a banana peel and dancing with a top hat and cane.