Behind the Scenes of the One Acts


cade beck

Every year the Harper Joy Theatre produces the One Act Play Festival, a series of three single-act plays written by Whitman students. The plays are selected by a committee of theatre and literature experts, many of whom have been involved in the process for all 24 years of the contest’s existence.

The One Acts are, in many ways, a miniaturized version of a full-season show. The entire process takes place in about three weeks, which limits the amount of set building, costume construction, lighting revisions, sound creations, props searches and blocking changes. However, the entire process is in the hands of students; the only department involvement is in the form of a small budget allotted for the shows.

Just like all shows, though, the most interesting moments take place where the audience can’t see: backstage. This body of art looks at the elements of a show through the eyes of a backstage technician, from mopping the stage at the top of the show to striking the entire set after the last show. It is backstage that one finds actors applying their makeup, dancing in the dressing rooms, running crew taking naps in the wings, dressers helping with quick costume changes, stage managers and board operators on headset and more. It is through these aspects that it is possible to really understand the theatre experience.