One Acts Exhibit Power of Whitman Unity

Adam Heymann

Have you ever noticed the correlation between the fun you have and the fun you see others having? For example, let’s say you’re sitting in the middle of a lecture, and the person on your right is falling asleep, while the person on your left is doodling. You’re more than likely to be infected by their boredom. Conversely, if you’re at a concert, and the guy on your one side is losing his voice from excited yelling, while the girl on the other side is dancing to her heart’s content, you’re likely to join in the festivities.

Whitman’s One Act Play Festival aims to infect its audience like the concert in the above example infected its participants. This year’s three shows include “Tooth + Nail” directed by sophomore Tyler Schuh, “Get on With It” directed by junior Theo Ciszewski and “Psychoanalysis and Its Discontents” directed by junior Josh Tacke.

One Acts
Photo by Allie Felt

The One Act Play Festival is distinct from other theatre productions because the plays are completely student run. Sophomore Vanessa Ryan, the student producer of the show, receives some guidance from Assistant Professor of Theatre Kristen Kosmas, but otherwise she must rely completely on students to make the sets, costumes, play the parts, write the scripts and bring the shows to life. This lack of professional supervision allows for more student bonding during the process and a sense of collective achievement.

“It is a show you have created with your cast and director, and when performing, you know you have brought this thing into existence, and that ephemeral nature of the performance is so magical and fills you with a lot of energy and … a feeling of happiness,” said sophomore actor Matthew Fisher.

This independent opportunity makes it possible for students to enter as well as flourish in the drama department.

“I think some people don’t realize that the One Acts are really a way to gain experience. Even if you haven’t done anything at all, that doesn’t bar you from getting involved,” said Ryan.

One Acts
Photo by Allie Felt

This year the drama department has expanded even further with student independence in the One Acts by incorporating a student judge into the decision-making process. The panel of judges read the scripts and chose the three plays that are to be performed. Junior Emily Krause was this year’s inaugural judge. She feels that her participation has increased the amount of student autonomy in this year’s festival.

“I really tried to bring in a perspective that came from my experiences participating in and watching the One Acts for the past two years, and that was also reflective of what is important and exciting to Harper Joy students as a community,” she said.

While being outwardly joyous, the One Act plays also aim to ask their viewers important questions. Schuh’s play “Tooth + Nail” is about a man oblivious to the supernatural forces that possess him.

“It focuses a lot on the nature of the world, how it is and is not ordered and controlled, and the play has a lot to do with teeth and cigarettes,” said Fisher.

Ciszewski says his play, “Get on With It,” tells a story of self-improvement.

“It is about two people who decide that they’re not very happy with their lives and take steps to change that.”

According to those involved, The One Act Play Festival is unique in its attempt to execute some of the best aspects of Whitman College: unity, joy, conscientiousness and creativity.

One Acts
Photo by Allie Felt