Festival offers hands-on experience

by Bailey Porter
Staff Writer

The theater mini-festival, sponsored by the University of La Verne Department of Theatre Arts, offered hands-on experience for students in the directing studio class and an escape from the televised coverage of the war.

Seven one-act plays were performed throughout the course of four days, April 7 to April 10, in the Cabaret and Dailey Theatre.

The productions were part of the requirements for the directing studio class, Theatre 355, instructed by Steve Kent, Jane Dibbell and Georgij Paro.

“Of course, it’s a theater, but somehow an experience of life,” Paro said.

Margaret Tipton, senior liberal arts major, only got into the theater program a year ago, with a role in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

But now, Tipton is minoring in theater and taking the directing class.

“I really love acting, but I’m not going to completely count out directing right now because I really enjoyed it,” Tipton said.

She directed “Ghost Stories” written by Annie Evans, a play about three reunited high school friends on a camping trip with the purpose of helping one of the friends find direction in life, after her attempted suicide.

Tipton’s experience gave her an understanding of the leadership role of a director and also a director’s need to be prepared for anything.

One of the actresses in “Ghost Stories” dropped out, so Tipton had to step in and act in the play as well.

Directing “Ghost Stories” also gave Tipton the opportunity to teach, she said.

“For one of my actresses, this was her first time, and getting her to come out of her shell was really fun,” she said.

Christina Massengale, sophomore theater and business administration major, played the lead character in “Ghost Stories.”

She found Tipton’s laid back and informal directing style beneficial to her preparation for the part of Alex, the friend who attempted suicide. She was brought camping by her friends who hoped to act out an intervention, Massengale said.

Entertainment in the form of a play can be a nice escape, even if briefly, for the actors, directors and audience members, Tipton said.

“I think it’s important because so many people might feel stifled by what other people say, especially now that we’re supposed to be so patriotic,” she said.

“It’s hard for us to say anything, and if we can say other people’s words and act it out and let these emotions come out being someone else, it’s cathartic in a way,” she said.

Work on the plays began in March, when the directors collaborated with scene and lighting designers and actors to conceptualize the final products, said freshman theater major James Darrah.

Darrah directed “Fourteen” by Alice Gerstenberg.

This one-act play was originally published in Drama Magazine in 1920. It features three characters, Mrs. Pringle, a society woman, Elaine, her daughter, and Dunham, a butler.

Other plays included in the mini-festival were “Match” directed by Rebecca Campana, “What She Saw There” directed by Bianca Shehata and “Our Man in Madras” directed by Matthew Pegram.

“Jumping,” directed by Tracy Kessler, and “Red Carnations,” directed by Evan Martinez, were also featured in the four day festival. The directing studio class will have another mini-festival at the end of the semester, which they are currently preparing for.

The next festival will be at 7:30 p.m., May 12 to May 15 at the Cabaret and Mainstage theatres in Dailey Theatre. Admission is free.

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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