by Jim North
Southeast Campus Editor
The annual Student Theatre Association’s Short Play Festival took place on Dec. 5 in the Black Box Studio Theatre.
Five plays were performed, as well as comedy by the Improv team.
Leta-June Pettit is the Student Theatre Association President for the 2015-16 school year. She was responsible for the planning and oversight of the event, along with the help of Vice President David Watson.
Pettit was pleased with the turnout, as the house was nearly full for three hours of production by student actors and writers.
She says the purpose of the annual Short Play Festival is to give students in the theatre department an opportunity to write their own play.
Once the plays were submitted and chosen, writers were provided the option of directing their play.
“The point was to make sure anybody that might not have been cast in one of the big shows we’ve got here throughout the year, has a chance to be involved in a show, whether it be in acting or with technical support,” says Pettit.
She adds that everyone did an excellent job.
“We were able to put everything together without any faculty help at all. It was completely student-led and organized.”
Preparation for the Short Play Festival lasted four weeks, although the writing in most cases lasted longer.
The logistics of five plays in one evening include set-up and tear-down of five completely different sets, as well as lighting and props, according to Pettit.
“It was just a great effort from everyone.”
The plays varied in content, from drama, comedy, music and Improv.
Pettit appreciates the comic relief component that plays can bring to an audience.
“That’s most of the reason why all of us are in the arts is to provide some sort of escape from the normal terrors of life, bills, homework and all of that,” she says.
Besides the support of Watson, Pettit credits Cody Osteen for set designs and Beth Cruice for lighting design.
At the end of the evening, the audience had the opportunity to vote on their favorite play. The winner was “The Audition,” written by Troy Cope.
Cope said, “I was beyond pleased with the overall outcome. It was my first show I ever wrote and directed. It was definitely a challenge at first, but I learned so much … I’m normally on the acting side and loved seeing what it was like on the other side.”
Nearly 20 students participated as actors and actresses.
Three judges evaluated and judged the awards: Assistant Professor of English Dr. Allen Culpepper, Production Supervisor Jim Runyan and Script-writing student Robert King.
Criteria used in evaluating awards included the overall togetherness of the work, the delivery of lines and successful conveyance of the show.
The Best Actor Award went to Scott Radford, who played the role of Clover in “Secondary Colors.”
Best Actress Award went to Abigail McVicker, who played the role of Eve in “When Satan Comes to Breakfast.”
Best Technical Performance went to Troy Cope’s “The Audition,” as well as Best Director.
Best Script Award was given to Leta-June Pettit, in “Floating.”
Floating is a story about a young married couple in the mid-70s. The husband was struggling with PTSD before there was a specific name for it, according to Pettit.
The couple struggled to decide whether they would continue to work on their marriage or give it up and let it dissolve. They had spent a large amount of time apart, with the husband in Vietnam and the wife dealing with backlash at home.
Pettit’s play evolved from a script she had written in Vern Stefanic’s Scriptwriting II class.
“I wanted to see it with props, costumes—everything. I was really happy with it,” she added.
There was also Improv comedy between shows and during intermission.
Stand-up comedy routines were performed by Jonah Fujuaka and Abigail McVicker, as well as musical numbers sung by McVicker and Kaitlyn Betzer.
The Short Play Festival was a collaboration, says Pettit.
“We’re all different, but we’re here for the same reason, we all love theatre. There’s something about it that brings us all together.”
The five plays were “Secondary Colors” by Charles Davis; “Floating” by Leta-June Pettit; “The Audition” by Troy Cope; “Arthur’s Mercy” by Kaitlyn Betzer; and “Satan Comes to Breakfast” by Daniel Distelhorst.
Students who would like to keep up with the activities of the Student Theatre Association, can go to their Facebook page.
They meet every Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. Any student with interest in theatre or helping with the department may attend.