If you had one act to tell your story, what would you say?
This week, three Bowdoin students, with the help of their peers, are answering that question during the annual One Act Festival. Produced by Masque and Gown in collaboration with the Hunter Frost Fund, the festival gives student playwrights, directors, and actors a chance to showcase their work by completing the challenging task of performing a one act play. The festival is also a competition. The writer of the best play is awarded at Honor's Day and memorialized on a statue in Memorial Hall.
Written by Kat Sherman '09 and directed by Cait Hylan '09, "grunge is dead" is the story of a girl struggling with the trauma of a failed relationship.
"It captures the experience of grief and loss, and how horribly indeterminate and cyclical it can be," Hylan said. "It's very sad—we cry in rehearsals a lot."
Writer Kat Sherman draws inspiration for her work from everyone and everything.
"Sometimes you get thematic things in your head first, sometimes it's a line, sometimes it's an image," she said. "I knew for this one I wanted a filthy apartment, a bowl of water, and increasing levels of desperation."
Like most who participate in Masque and Gown, both Sherman and Hylan have background in writing and directing.
"I directed Kat's one act 'Gargoyles' our sophomore year, and worked on 'Taming of the Shrew' in directing class with Professor Davis Robinson," said Hylan. "Then, I spent a semester off-campus studying at the National Theater Institute in Waterford, Connecticut, and in St. Petersburg, Russia."
It's not only seniors vying for distinction at this year's festival. "Disconnected," written by Lara Lom '09, is directed by first year William Pugh.
"Though I've had plenty of acting experience over the years, this was the first time I've ever attempted to direct anything." Pugh said. "My time on the stage throughout middle and high school has really helped the transition from under the lights to the director's chair fairly seamless."
While some first years might be intmidated by the idea of working with a senior, Pugh was not. He was instantly at home with Masque and Gown, and working closely with the writer was an important part of his experience with the festival, according to him.
"Lara has been great in terms of letting me artistically interpret 'Disconnected' on my own," said Pugh. "Our one act festival is about the writing, and I want to do everything in my power to bring Lara's script the recognition it deserves."
The final piece that will be performed at this weekend's festival is "Writer's Block," written by Omm Lucarelli '09 and directed by Wesley Hartwell '11. Lucarelli described the piece simply as "characters come to life, chaos ensues." Unlike some of the other writers who worked with their directors, Lucarelli has a different take when it comes to interpretation of her work.
"My personal belief is that a playwright should generally have some distance from the directing process, unless they are directing their own work," she said. "This allows the director to interpret and therefore direct the play according to his impulses and discretion."
Hartwell, who has a moderate amount of prior experience, credits his actors for the success of the piece. "Thankfully, my actors are really good at what they do, and they've been very supportive of my somewhat experimental style," Hartwell said. "As experienced actors, they have worked very well with me to bring this play to life through a healthy interactive process."
All three plays bring a different element of theater to this year's One Act Festival. Festival coordinator Susie Kimport '09 is excited to see the final product.
"This year, we are especially proud of the quality of all the one-acts and look forward to a great show," she said.
The One Act Festival will be performed tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. in Memorial 108 at Pickard Theater. The show is free and open to the public.