One-Acts depict innovative visions of love, apocalypse

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Senior Thomas Knook swore in frustration in Harper Joy’s “Black Box” as the actor struggled to enter gun-first through the curtains. The rifle muzzle appeared under the curtain hem and began inching forward.

“Navy Seal!” quipped junior Jeremy Howell, director of senior David Otten’s one-act play “Little Brother.”

Credit: Allie Felt

With “Little Brother” and his other play “The Station,” Otten has achieved what has only happened once before in Whitman history––the selection of two plays by the same playwright for the three coveted slots in the One-Act Play Festival, running from Wednesday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 12.

“The rules were that you could submit three plays and have three plays picked, but after it happened for the first time––it did happen before, but it was like 15 years ago that somebody had two plays––they kind of realized that they want to give more people the opportunity,” said senior Michaela Gianotti, author of “The Guests,” the third play in the contest. “Everybody was like, really amazed that David did that, because it’s such a big accomplishment, so nobody wanted to take that away from him, of course. So they’re going to change it for future years, but still, it’s awesome that David has two plays this year.”

Otten explained the premises of his two unusual plays.

“‘Little Brother’ is a weird thing. It takes place in post-apocalyptic America: basically think ‘The Road,'” said Otten. “It concerns this old man who’s been living in a house by himself for the past 42 years; he’s in complete isolation. His granddaughter is now a soldier in the infantry of what remains of the human race; she comes to visit him once a year while she goes on patrol around the area. This is a wasteland that he’s in. [The other play] ‘The Station’ is very Chaplin-esque. A socially inept janitor who works at a train station falls in love with a woman. It’s very sweet.”

Credit: Allie Felt

Junior Beth Daviess plays Dutch, the granddaughter in “Little Brother.” Daviess and her fellow actors are under significant pressure, with one week less than normal to rehearse for the contest.

“It’s been really, really short. Last year felt short. This feels ridiculous,” said Daviess.

“The real challenge is that I’m working with a two-person cast for a 35-minute play––so it might seem like it’s easier to control, ’cause you only have two cast members to direct, but they have as much on their plate as maybe a cast of 10 people,” said Howell.

Gianotti’s play, with an ensemble cast, takes a more traditional approach.

“I think the show, more than anything, is about love: the three siblings are all in love or falling out of love in some kind of different way,” said Gianotti. “They’re all different ages and at different places in their lives, and it presents three very different kinds of relationships.”

Audiences at “The Guests” should expect some visual chaos, Gianotti added.

“Our show is last because we’re going to make a really big mess onstage,” said Gianotti.

Tickets for the One-Act Play Contest are currently available at the Harper Joy box office.

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