The Slippery Rock Department of Theatre presented its annual Brave New Plays festival this past week in Sheehy Theatre. The festival, which doubles as a final project for students enrolled in the class directing 337, featured 11 plays that were written, produced, performed and directed by Slippery Rock students.
Beginning as early as last semester, students of any major were able to submit scripts to be considered for the festival. Of the roughly 24 plays that were submitted, the theatre department sifted through and determined the top 11 they believed to possess the most captivating, artistic and unique aspects. Students in the directing class were then able to choose which one they wanted to direct for their final project.
While each play was well-received by the audience, two in particular, “It’s Like Pizza” and “Vengeance,” had the crowd roaring with laughter.
Opening to a scene of two friends cynically arguing, “It’s Like Pizza” comically depicted the struggle many encounter when navigating the complicated dating scene during early adulthood. Levi, a character played by Jared Lewis, appears frustrated by the amount of publically displayed affection he notices everywhere. His friend Brent, an apparent stoner played by Lawrence ‘Joe’ Karl, offers little meaningful advice and seems more focused on satisfying his marijuana -induced hunger. “It’s Like Pizza” was written by Rebecca McGann and directed by Crystal Goeteller.
“Vengeance,” written by Ashley Tresky and directed by Kaitlyn Cliber, began with two bickering siblings. Peyton, portrayed by Allison Valetta, and Collin, portrayed by Jacob Craig, are suddenly thrown into a role reversal situation when their parents come into the scene acting childishly. The two siblings are forced to take control of the situation and discover the value of maturity and compromise in the process.
Laura Smiley, professor of directing, said she gives students a lot of leeway in the directing process.
“If there’s any sort of major problem, I step in,” Smiley said. “But for the most part, they’re adults, it’s up to them.”
When speaking of the selection process for choosing the top 11, Smiley described the procedure as kind of subjective.
“What you think is good and what I think is good may be very different,” Smiley said. “We’re looking for art; is the dialogue snappy? Are the characters interesting? Does it grab your attention?”
Junior theatre major Emily Daning, who typically performs in plays, said the course showed her the other side of things.
“I’m not used to giving the orders,” Daning said, speaking of her role as director of “My Spot.” “Now that we’re directors, we’re kind of taking everything we’ve learned and putting it all together.”
Students from all areas of study are encouraged to participate in this opportunity for artistic expression. Sophomore English education major Rebecca Robles, who played the lead role in “Always Zero Now,” said she originally signed up to act on a dare from a friend. Robles said after she had performed, however, she loved the acting experience and plans to continue in the future.