‘Volvos,’ ‘Eggs,’ ‘Cleavage’ for this year’s One-Acts

Heather Nichols-Haining

The plays in the One-Act Play Contest, running from Feb. 6 to 10, have been entirely produced by students. Students have done the writing, directing, casting, and will even do the judging.

Retired Physics Professor Craig Gunsul, started the contest 19 years ago to promote creativity on campus.

“As a physics professor, I felt that the college was superior at encouraging analysis, but lacked in promoting creativity,” said Gunsul, “Acting is such a gutsy proposition. Putting it all out on the table like that is hard.”

His intent to promote creativity has been successful. This year, there were 12 one-acts submitted, and over 400 students are projected to attend, making it one of the most popular productions put on in Harper Joy.

Last November students submitted original scripts to a selection committee of theater professors from Whitman and outside community members with expertise in theater.

The plays were selected and the writers each picked a director, who then held auditions, were in charge of casting and were given freedom with the production of their plays. There was very little faculty involvement in the process.

“We basically just chose which plays we think will be the best, gave the kids funds, and the directors are in charge of the rest,” said Gunsul.

Students didn’t need any previous experience to be chosen as a director, though writers were given a list of people who took the directing class offered at Whitman.

“I directed a little in high school, but this will really be my first big directing experience. It’s been fun to take what I’ve learned in class and apply it to this,” said theater and music major, junior Evan Cartwright, who directed “Like Eggs at Present,” written by senior Kaitlin Phillips.

“In the past, we haven’t had as many female writers. I’m glad more women are going for this,” said Phillips. For the first time ever, two of the three writers are female. The other female writer is sophomore Alexandra Schireman.

The play contest offers many opportunities for students to gain experience and get involved in the theater department.

“I want to go into dramatic writing in the future, and this is good experience for that,” said Phillips, whose play “Anticipatin Life” won second place in last year’s contest.

“Sometimes it’s hard to break into the theater department if you aren’t a theater major. But I’m really grateful that as a non-theater major, I have the chance to participate,” said sophomore Alex Kerr, who wrote the play “Volvo 240,” and won third place with his play “Dude It’s Cool” last year.

The judging will be done by popular vote via poker chips. Each play will be assigned a different colored poker chip. The audience will watch the three plays, each about 30 minutes long, and then vote for their favorite by submitting a poker chip whose color corresponds with their favorite play. The winner will be announced at the end of the four nights and cash prizes will be awarded to all three competitors.

The One-Acts will be showing throughout the week at the Freimann Stage. The directors are expecting a full house, and many of the nights are sold out. Tickets for Friday and Saturday both sold out two days after they went on sale on January 28.

For Gunsul, this year is particularly exciting because the program has finally been endowed. A successor will now be able to run the program and $500 to $1000 will be allotted each year for the production of the plays.