Student-directed plays are a unique opportunity

At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 12, two one-act plays were presented by four Drama students to friends, family, and faculty. The first was J. Holtham’s “Margo at Sea” and the second Michael Wallace’s “Famous Last Words.”

Directed by Aydin Aliseo, Christina Leland as Margo and Caleb Conway as Lewis in “Margo at Sea” delivered punchy, emotional lines in their 20 minutes on stage. Their portrayal of the breaking apart of a troubled romance was skillfully executed, and they never once broke out of character.

The work they put into the show, especially the acting itself and the interactions with set design, was evident.

“Preparing for the performance was not only really fun, but also very relationship building. I was able to create real connections with the people I worked with,” said Leland. “We took about four months to practice memorization and rehearsal with each other.”

The performance ended with sorrow as a main takeaway, but Leland and Conway bowed to the audience with delighted smiles.

Around noon, once the lights dimmed at the close of “Margo at Sea,” Ariel Jose-Solomons, Teyla McKenzie, and Jacob Hernandez set up props for their performance of “Famous Last Words.”

In a sullen cemetery, McKenzie as Blanche, an elementary school-age girl, and Hernandez as Memry, a 14-year-old boy, had a talk about why Blanche ran from her bullies rather than stand up to them. For much of the play, Blanche stands staring towards the sky as Memry attempts to erase the tombstones’ inscriptions to “absolve them,” as he puts it. 

Once sitting, Memry tells Blanche his reasoning for spending time at the cemetery so often, implying the deaths of both his parents. A surprising plot twist at the show’s end reveals Memry is a ghost, and he disappears suddenly, leaving Blanche sitting alone on the ground. Hernandez and McKenzie played their roles well and impressed with the descriptive dialogue.

“I chose Famous Last Words because I actually saw that play as a kid and ever since I always wanted to direct it,” said first-time director Jose-Solomons. “It was a great experience!”

“Working with Ariel and Jacob was a super fun time,” said McKenzie. “Never heard of this playwright beforehand and he has a really compelling way of storybuilding.”

On the process of preparing for the performance, Hernandez recalls the challenge of “getting the emotion and delivery of lines right” but feels “a sort of nostalgic melancholy” now that it’s over.

The Drama department frequently produces shows and plays, including an Acting I and II Showcase on Tuesday, March 19, from 11:30-12:30, where further acting talents will be on display. 

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