Catharsis On and Off the Stage: Tyler Schuh Talks About the One Act Play Festival

Emma Dahl

Sitting on the couches upstairs in the Reid Campus Center, first-year Tyler Schuh discusses his experience writing for Whitman’s One Act Play Festival. Unlike most of the others who submitted plays, Schuh explained that it wasn’t only his first time writing for the play contest: It was also his first time writing a play.

The One Acts open tonight.  Pioneer photographer Becca Mellema shows us a recent rehearsal.
The One Acts open tonight. Pioneer photographer Becca Mellema shows us a recent rehearsal.

“I never wrote a play before. I wrote a lot of poetry, flash fiction kind of things, because it was easier in the moment to just write and vent,” explained Schuh. “[But] playwriting always fascinated me … [plays] always appeared so big and intimidating.”

But as Schuh explained, playwriting became just another outlet for his work. As it turned out, poetry and playwriting had much more in common than he originally thought, and he was able to use some of his previous works in his play. It was almost like all his play was just a big found poem.

“That’s what playwriting is: You just put things together, be it historical characters or texts that you hear and find,” he explained.

Director of the play, Maggie

As Schuh began writing, the play became a metaphor for catharsis. Drawing from his own experiences, Schuh saw the play as a representation for the personal clutter and depression that had occurred in his own life. Reflecting back on his life, Schuh was able to convey the progression of emotion from the lowest low to the eventual high.

Schuh found out firsthand that one of the most difficult aspects of being a playwright is the handing over of your work for others to interpret and manipulate.

“At first I would come to every rehearsal and cringe a little,” Schuh laughed. “Thank God I got the flu and didn’t come for a few days because when I came back, I was blown away. I was like, ‘this is great.’ This is different, but great, and it’s still really powerful.”

End of Dance

Perhaps it was from his experiences of ineffectively defending his ideas in high school that Schuh found it hard to communicate his ideas with others. But after watching the actors convey his vision, Schuh found that he had formed a real connection between his words and reality. It was okay to trust other people.

“It’s gonna be great,” said Schuh.

Up fpor interpretation, but I believe this guy just died

The play contest will be produced this weekend, starting Thursday, Feb. 7 and continuing until Sunday, Feb. 10. Thursday through Saturday will be evening shows and the final show will be a matinee. Tickets can be acquired for free at the Harper Joy box office on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

WATCH: One Acts writer Tyler Schuh watches a rehearsal and describes his writing process, by Pioneer videographer Skye Vander Laan.