Students showcase talent, theatrical flair at One-Acts

C.J. Wisler

by CJ Wisler

The spring season of Harper Joy Theater opens with the One-Act Play Festival, which displays the works of three student playwrights chosen by Whitman professors from an array of hopeful writers.

A traditional part of the HJT season, the One-Acts provide extra opportunities for students to get involved with Whitman theater. Senior English major Jake Kinstler, whose work was selected, became interested in writing for the One-Acts due to the Instant Play Festival.

“I had a really fun time writing, but even more so with the behind-the-scenes process. I wanted to see a more student-scale response to my writing,” said Kinstler.  

Kinstler stated he felt “overwhelmed” by the theater’s complexity, creativity and involvement.

“I didn’t realize how little things I wrote would be interpreted with such artistic vision,” Kinstler said. “There’s a lot of trust and cooperation between the cast, Emily [Fassler, his director] and myself.”

“It’s a great opportunity for students,” said senior theater major Mark Kennedy. “Not enough take advantage of it.”

Upper- and lower-classmen alike have equal opportunities to get involved.

“Nancy Simon asked me to be the production manager, which seemed like a daunting task as a freshman,” said first-year Sarah Wright. “Without a professor directing, it forces students to be professional.”

Each playwright spent much of first semester writing and refining their plays –––– on top of schoolwork, orals, writtens and other activities. The final assortment of plays are unique in tone, hue and caliber.  

Mark Kennedy’s magical-realist play “Sharp or Sharp” features a variety of characters, including one who literally pops into existence.

“I was interested in how people create meaningful relationships out of nothing. How do you fill your life with meaning?” Kennedy said.

Kinstler’s dark comedy “Killers, Priests, Sinners and Whores” gives a familial twist to an infamous character.

“After walking by a dark alley near Reid, a dialogue between Jack the Ripper and his brother burst into my mind. It really explores the uniqueness of brotherhood,” said Kinstler.

The final play, Anastasia Higham’s “Scenes on a Bus,” is a morality tale that offers a glimpse into every day oddities that take place on a Seattle bus line.

The shows will be preformed on the smaller Freimann Stage, nicknamed “The Black Box.”

“It’s a different style of play,” said senior Rosie Brownlow, the director of “Scenes on a Bus.” “Normally you don’t notice little physical subtleties. You have to be pretty creative telling the story.”

Kinstler revealed enthusiasm about the stage. “The limitations actually helped me. Since it’s so small, it accentuated the play’s sense of claustrophobia,” he said.

The One-Acts begin on Wednesday, Feb. 11, and run through Sunday, Feb. 15. Tickets are on sale at the box-office.

“I’m excited. The entire process has been really enjoyable,” Kintsler ssaid with a grin. “I wish I had been involved in theater earlier because it’s such a great opportunity for students.”