The challenges of parenthood, a story about an assassin, family dynamics, secrets hidden in closets, struggles of suicidal minds, fear of intimacy and self-reflection are the recipes for the all-student production “A Night of Student Work,” directed by James Fowler.
The Department of Theater Arts kickstarted the semester with its first production of six one-act plays written and performed by students.
Each piece is a short, realistic, slice-of-life depiction that reflects the internal and external struggles of the characters. The audience can connect with what they see in one way or another because the play is inclusive in every aspect, which makes the watching experience more enjoyable.
“I want audiences to walk away understanding that there is not just one type of work we need to be doing. We need to be listening to many voices,” said Fowler.
“It focuses on LGBTQIA+ narratives, it focuses on Latin American narratives, it is not focused on the old classics. This is truly inclusive and diverse. I want audiences to walk away seeing themselves in it. Now, we can see so many different elements of humanity because we are including all of it.”
Fowler is an actor, singer, musical theater artist, director and educator. He is also a firm believer in collaborative spaces, which is an essential part of the positive feedback loop.
The rehearsal process was a little over four weeks long and, despite being a quick production, Fowler gave all the credit to the students on and off the stage.
“They were amazing to work with. Not just on stage working with actors, but also, my stage manager Sonia. She has been incredible, a student herself here. The crew, a lot of whom are students, have been incredibly helpful and efficient.”
Kyle Matsuda, a sophomore theater arts major plays Michael in the “Straight Play,” written by Lucy Brown.
Michael is a full-time waiter at a French restaurant and during one quiet shift, he recognizes someone from his past, an ex-boyfriend from college. When Michael notices that his ex is on a date with a girl he tries to play it cool, but it snowballs into disaster.
“It is breaking the mold of the standard guy meets a girl romance trope. It gives me the chance to express myself through a character that is close to who I am,” said Matsuda.
The act emphasizes the struggles of accepting one’s identity rather than forcing oneself to fit into a box created by societal norms.
“I want the audience to walk away with a sense of understanding of the queer community. This is a very queer-heavy piece, where it’s not just gay people thrown in your face, which some people think,” Matsuda said.
“I want them to experience what queer dating is like, which is not a big blown-out thing they do in movies now. It is a regular relationship just like a regular straight relationship, but queer. There is no difference between queer people and regular people.”
Envee Lin Atlas, a sophomore theater performance major, plays the character Sally in the same play.
Atlas shared that she learned a lot about herself and her acting style through the process because getting into the character was not always easy for her.
“‘Straight Play’ is about multiple people with different sexual identities coming together and discovering who they are. It is about openness. I want the audience to think that while watching this,” said Atlas.
“Barn in the Street” is another one-act play written by Doshima Iyorlu.
The one-act play is about Tino, a young father trying to figure out how to be the best parent for his little girl who is figuring out her sexual identity.
Tino meets Barn, played by Finn Holmgren, and their interactions highlight the stigma about queer identities.
Tino is played by Miguel Avila, a senior theater performance major. Avila’s favorite moment during the production was working alongside talented people like director Fowler.
“Someone who knows what they are doing in a specific area is great,” said Avila.
Avila wants people to leave more knowledgeable than they came in. He believes that it is important to talk about these issues in-depth.
“Everyone has their own stuff going on. At the end of the day, we are living our own lives, still trying to figure out life,” Avila said.
The play was at the Studio Theater from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23.