5th Annual One Act Play Festival!

November 30 and December 1 are the performance dates for the 5th Annual Belhaven University One Act Play Festival!

Since 2006, Belhaven has produced a One Act Play Festival at the end of each Fall semester, a culminating collaborative project between the students in the Directing and Production Supervision classes.  In various years, the production of the festival has also included contributions from students in either Lighting or Technical Resources class as well.

The One Act Festival is produced in a ‘dessert theatre’ format, the audience will sit at tables to enjoy a treat during the performances, which will appear on two stages in the theatre (to shorten the transition time between plays).  Admission to the show is free, and all dessert sales go to benefit Iota Upsilon, Belhaven’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega national theatre honorary society, sponsors of several community service and performance projects.

In past years, the students of the Directing class were on their own to find the material they would produce, which has given us a variety of material, from short plays by well-known, established playwrights, some lesser-known contemporary writers, and at least once each year, a brand-new original play.  This year, we decided to do something a little different.

The plays this year were chosen as the winners of the 2010 Belhaven University One Act Play Contest.  Scripts were submitted from all over the country by the beginning of September, and were read by the students, who each chose a winning play to direct.  This year, we are pleased to be presenting the following original plays:

Lucy Dreaming by Stacey Lane – directed by Becki Haynes
Los Libros Malos by D. Richard Tucker – directed by Deanna Smith
I, Satan, Confess by Moriah Whiteman – directed by Scott Gaines
Positive Thinking by Seth McNeill – directed by Dave Harris
Borders by Mallory Alexa Leonard – directed by Marie Warner
King Thrush Beard by Rosh Raines – directed by Lex Quarterman
Degrees of Repossession by Bret Kenyon – directed by Danielle Davis

4 of these playwrights are graduates of Belhaven, and 3 we are pleased to welcome as new associates to our theatre program!

With the success of this year’s contest, we are excited to see what next year’s contest has in store!  For more information about submission guidelines and deadlines, send an email to  “theatre at belhaven.edu” with the subject line 2011 One Act Play Contest.

Juliet and Her Romeo – Director’s Note

Marie Warner and Scott Gaines perform the final scene in Juliet and Her Romeo

Marie Warner and Scott Gaines perform the final scene in Juliet and Her Romeo

I’m not usually one who likes to write director’s notes, but given the nature of our production’s experiment, it was necessary to give the audience a bit of a glimpse into our reason’s for the style of our presentation…

Romeo and Juliet is quite simply one of the most popular plays of the English language.  It has been a crowd-pleaser since its initial presentation by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in the late 1590s, and has been performed countless times all over the globe.  The story, drawn from elements of the Pyramus and Thisbe story in Ovid’s Metamorphosis and the feud between the Montechi and Cappaletti families mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy, has inspired innumerous artworks, musical pieces, ballets, operas, plays, films, anime, and even a recent version of the tale created via Twitter feed.  The tragedy of the star-crossed lovers has become so ingrained in the global culture that the image of the balcony scene and even the names of the characters are synonymous with young romantic love.

We have called our production of the play Juliet and Her Romeo for several reasons; to separate this production from a traditional staging of the play, because those are the last four words of the text, and the re-arrangement of the original title provided an opportunity to re-examine the relationship of the title characters.  It is in the spirit of this third reason that we formulated the ‘experiment’ of this production.

The experiment was to take a play as iconic as Romeo and Juliet, and discover a way to break it down into its individual parts, to allow an audience the opportunity of examining those parts (the scenes) in a unique way, by attempting to treat each scene individually.  This led to the decision to cast each of the scenes of the play individually, to have our eight actors constantly switching roles from scene to scene – someone playing Juliet may be the Nurse next, followed by Lord Capulet.  Since each scene was to be treated individually, through rehearsal, we discovered that there were some scenes where a sense of pluralism, through having multiple actors play a single part at once, provided another layer to the scene.  Creating a unique experience and view for each scene also led to our decision to alter the seating arrangement several times during the show, to physically change the point of view during the course of the performance.

This production would not be possible but through the brave and gracious efforts of the cast, crew, designers, technicians, artists and servants listed in the program.  It is our sincere hope that our hard work will be a blessing to you, and bring glory to our God.

Joseph Frost

Chair of Theatre

Director, Juliet and Her Romeo

Juliet & Her Romeo

What do you get if you have Aerial Silks, Steam Punk, a Cast of 8, moving banks of Audience seating, a Black Box theatre and a Director willing to approach this classic tale in a new way …….

Why our next production of course!

Directed by Joseph Frost our experimental presentation of Shakespeare classic tragedy of young love is sure to intrigue, entertain, and keep you guessing as to what is going to happen next.  You will not want to miss this production.

Juliet & her Romeo

Juliet & her Romeo

Also a big thank you to the Belhaven Theatre Graphic Design Department for this great poster design.

Directors Unite or at Least Share

We took the opportunity to ask our Student Directors in our One Act process the same questions we asked the Student Stage Managers and these were their answers:

1. What is currently the most exciting part of your job in the one acts?

  • Interacting with my cast and crew; being able to collaborate with such talented people is wonderful.
  • The learning process. My goal is that the actors, SMs, the audience, and myself all react to each other as both teacher and student. We all are discovering and going away from this show having learned something. Even if it is that they hated it. Even that reaction is still exciting to me.
  • The most exciting part of the process has been the fact that I have been able participate in something new and challenging.
  • Watching the collaborative process happen.
  • I never thought I would want to direct a show and now that I am, I am simply loving it! I enjoy witnessing the progress of the actors from day one to performance night and seeing the collaborative efforts of everyone involved. It’s a wonderful experience!
  • The most exciting thing as a director has been getting into the first few rehearsals with my cast.  I loved getting to know them and helping to foster their relationship onstage.

2. What has been the most challenging part of your job in the one acts?

  • Translating what is in my head into terms that my actors can understand.
  • Just sitting back and realizing what the most important things to work on are. It’s too easy to get bogged down in a single aspect or a single detail to the point where I neglect the big picture. It’s also too easy to get into unnecessary exercises that I don’t even use properly.
  • The most challenging part of the process has been clear articulation sometimes of what I want the actors to do.
  • Being decisive and economical with time.
  • The process of learning to modify and adjust your ideas (on the spot) when you plan for a rehearsal and it doesn’t work. 🙂
  • The biggest challenge for me has been setting blocking!  As we explored the text, so many interesting things were happening, I hated to have to choose just one.

3. What are you most looking forward to that is yet to come in the this process?

  • Letting go of the show. It will soon be in the hands of my very capable SM and actors.
  • I look forward to is seeing if my actors can take it to the next level using the information I have already given them.
  • Seeing all the pieces come together-I want others to see it.
  • What I am looking forward to in the process is seeing the actors perform in front of an audience.
  • Sitting back with my close friends and watching this show bloom onstage!
  • I am most looking forward to experiencing the audience’s response to my play.  It will be interesting to see how the audience influences and affects my cast’s performance.

4. What piece of advice would you want to give to next years Stage Managers?

  • Don’t worry so much about getting the blocking and what not done. It is way more important to create a good environment that will inspire creativity and then let your actors do their job!
  • Your actors emulate you, so be confident. A weak director with no energy will create a similar cast. Know your goal, theme, common vocabulary, and meaning of the lines in relation to these. If you know these, your decisions will be working towards them, and so will your actors.
  • The advice I would give to directors next year would be to write down exactly what you want to say in reharsals so there won’t be any confusion or miscommunication between you and the actors.
  • Relax. Believe. Enjoy. You’ll be surprised what will happen.
  • The best piece of advice I was given about this class was basically: don’t worry about it being the most spectacular thing you’ve ever done; it’s the first thing you’ve ever directed so it’s ok if it’s a failure. That definitely took the pressure off my shoulders. Just have fun with it and expect to learn A LOT!