By: Max Singer
Whatcom Community College’s drama classes are teaming up with the Drama Club again this year to produce both full-length productions and shorter segment plays. This spring quarter, Whatcom’s annual One-Act Play Festival was held June 5 through June 7.
One of the six student directors of the festival, Katie James, 19, said the festival is fully directed, acted in and written by Whatcom students. The one-acts feature 21 individual mini-plays directed by six students, each roughly 3-15 minutes long, James said.
Actress Claire Forsberg, 18, said the one-acts are unique in originality and most of them are set in Bellingham. “It’s cool to perform plays written in your home town,” she said.
Stage manager Riley Edmonds, 18, said that in the interest of catering to a family audience, a lot of censorship and script changes were required. She said this, combined with the majority of the group being female (roughly a 3:1 ratio), forced the student directors to change certain gender roles.
One of the hardest parts about being a director, James said, is “being strict, without hurting their feelings.”
She added that communication is essential as one person missing can hold up the entire group. She said another challenging aspect of directing is the “what I had in mind aspect,” the constant problem of visualization versus implementation.
Forsberg said one of the most difficult aspects of being an actor is “really being able to let yourself loose.”
Another stage actor, Hunter Klug, 21, said the way he prepares for shows is by memorizing the lines first, because the actions follow.
“Personally, when I see someone angry, I’ll try and copy their face,” he said. It’s really about learning mannerisms for the characters and “exploring a comfort zone outside oneself. Don’t try, just be.”
In terms of production support, Forsberg said that “Russ Nelson is the ‘magic-man’ behind the scenes, he’s officially the drama department’s technical director and he takes care of organizing actors, acquiring props, and just general behind-the-scenes work.”
James said in order to become a student director, Large requires students to take the Acting I course in order to get some training and experience before directing live for an audience.
Edmonds said the one-acts featured a larger number of set changes than in other productions, with some scenes requiring more than three set changes in a single act.
She added that she enjoys the whole production atmosphere, especially “a sense of accomplishment after that final curtain fall.”
Edmonds said she is hopeful the festival will inspire more people to join or just get involved with the theater arts in some aspect.
Klug said he honestly feels more people would get into acting, but unfortunately there is a lack of incentives. “People end up studying instead of letting loose in that way,” he said.
Klug said if there is one thing to take away from the festival, it is simply to enjoy it. That is ultimate goal of entertainment he said, “that and expression.” He added that those involved “also acquire tons of life skills, confidence—personal confidence, and exposure to different cultures.”
The show start at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for all audience members. With 21 different acts in the play production; Edmonds estimates the runtime of the show to be close to 90 minutes.