Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Sneak peek: HJT’s One Acts

by Ian Jagel

It is perhaps not uncommon for a Whitman student to stumble upon an artist grappling with the meaning of life, a voice of reason, even a red Viking armadillo. But to find all three at the same venue is truly a sight to behold. Harper Joy Theatre is prepared to deliver just that, and more, at the 18th annual student-run One-Act play competition.

Nearly a dozen scripts were submitted for selection. The plays, “Anticipating Life” by sophomore Kaitlin Phillips, “Interrogation Room” by senior theater major Dru Johnston and “Dude It’s Cool” by first-year Theater Sports member Alex Kerr were chosen by a small panel of theatre and English professors for the competition.

The history of the One Act play festival originates with now-retired professor of physics Craig Gunsul. Gunsul founded the competition, an annual event that is now endowed, as a vehicle for students to garner experience play-writing, directing and producing. The competition is almost entirely student-produced; students have the opportunity to go through the theatrical process, which includes production meetings, fund-raising, and publicity, not to mention the actual production of the one act.

“When people come see the one acts, they should have a lot of fun,” said Stephen Carter, director of “Interrogation Room.” Carter, who directed Evan Carman’s “Acting Normal” One Act last year, is excited to get the chance to work in this capacity again with this new script and cast. “It’s essentially a play about how everybody considers themselves to be the victim.”

“Interrogation Room” is a series of scenes revolving around the same event from the point of view of various characters, similar to a Steven Dietz ‘variation’ play. You are guaranteed to laugh at these larger-than-life characters, but as Carter notes, “There really is no lesson learned. Dru [the writer] gets in, makes you laugh, and gets out before it’s too late.”

Cari Ellinghaus, director of Phillips’s “Anticipating Life,” described her play as “the relationship of an artist with the real world and the struggle to authentically relate to the outside world when so much of art is internal.” Set in contemporary times, “Anticipating Life” echoes the voices of our time, yet is reminiscent of times past. “This play is relevant because a lot of us struggle to find our own identity as artists as well as our identity in the world,” Ellinghaus said. “Regardless of major, we here at Whitman are all here to create something.”

In contrast to the other plays, “Dude It’s Cool,” directed by Forrest Seamons, is, as Seamons puts it, “about learning to play the hand you are dealt.” “Dude It’s Cool” is the story of Kyle, a guy who isn’t content with his life. When Kyle is confronted by three extraordinary gods, he is forced to reckon with the conventions that dictate his reality.

At the end of every performance, each audience member will be given poker chips that they will use to rank the plays. After the last performance, the votes will be tallied and the winning playwright will receive their prize of $150.

Plays will be performed from Feb. 7 – 11 on the Harper Joy Theatre’s Freimann Stage. Tickets will be available through Harper Joy’s box office on Jan. 26 for season subscribers and Jan. 29 for the general box office. For show times, reservations and other information call (509) 527-5280.

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