Fragile companionship and realization of loneliness were defining characteristics of this year’s One Acts Show.
Every year, SPU theater students put on a series of one acts in which students run each aspect of the show from directing, set building and costuming, to acting and tech.
Three Irish one acts are showcased this year: “Bags,” by Annie V. McGravie, “The Rising of the Moon,” by Lady Augusta Gregory and “Afterplay,” by Brian Friel.
“Bags” tells a story of two strange women who are forced to sit together in an outdoor dining area. After some conversation, they find out they have lots in common. A less-than-excellent waitress continuously interrupts them, often complaining about unattended bags.
The audience soon learns the story behind why the bag holds so much meaning and the story takes an unexpected turn.
“The Rising of the Moon” features three policeman posting wanted signs and seeking a political criminal. One officer stays behind on a dock to take watch, and eventually an Irish peasant approaches him.
Conversation ensues, and soon a connection is found between these characters leading to a new understanding.
“Afterplay” is about two strangers who meet at a cafe two nights in a row. They begin to talk about their lives, both past and present.
As the night goes on, they find themselves learning more about each other and themselves. By the end of the night, they are so caught up with each other that they reveal truths about themselves.
Theater students juniors Hailey Williams and Alex Garramone and senior Jason Hill are directing this season’s chosen one acts.
The cast of each play consists of just a few characters, varying between two and four people. However, the focus of each tends to be on just two of the characters.
Simplistic sets are laid out for each play, setting the mood for the story to come.
From barrels and nets to white cloths and flower vases, the setting of each story is quickly identifiable.
After a one-act comes to an end, a crew quickly helps change the props and setting, in order to move on to the next play.
This change takes place in scene change lighting, which is mostly dark, with a small light to guide the crew.
Costumes were also a key factor in helping these shows come together. Each outfit helped establish a bit of a character’s story.
From uniforms to fur coats to old dirt makeup, the costumes blended in nicely with their surroundings, making the context for every show realistic.Fully embracing the framework of their shows, actors also speak with accents, demonstrating dedication and deep emotion.
The realism their roles provided played an important role in making the stories come to life and fully captivate the audience.
Together, all these factors helped put together narratives packed with unexpected emotion. Through a single act, hence the name, each of these plays manages to tell a rich story filled with character, understanding and provocative meaning.
Although each show tells a different story with its own characters, there is some clear overlap of themes among them.
For one, strangers meet in an otherwise vacant area and eventually find commonalities with each other.
Through their similarities, they find a sense of companionship and camaraderie. Still, each character seems aware of how fragile that connection truly is.
As conversations flourish, an awareness of loneliness grows to different extents. Whether emotionally, physically or socially alone, each character realizes their personal solitude.
Offering several different scenarios of togetherness and aloneness coming hand in hand, with hints of nostalgia sprinkled in, the show creates a space to empathize with the characters and undergo both self and social reflection.
SPU’s One Acts Show goes on from March 7-11 in the McKinley Studio Theater.