By Mary Best,’14, and Emily West, ’13
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University’s SBU Theater will revive its biennial one-act festival production this November in a diverse, six-piece presentation titled “One Act Festival VI: Knowing and Un-Knowing.”
Ed. Simone, director of SBU’s theater program, says the list, which features mostly comedies and will be presented in a three-quarter round format, includes two plays that have been previously unpublished and were part of the 2012 Source Festival in Washington, D.C.
“‘National Smoke Signal Day’ by Billy Finn is a surprising 10-minute play about a young man and woman skipping school on a day when everything in their lives suddenly and irrevocably changes,” Simone said. “Jonathan Spector’s ‘Be What You Wish to Seem’ follows the breakup of a very self-involved couple, who decide to transform themselves into other people and other forms of existence with bizarre results.”
The list also includes “Words, Words, Words” by David Ives; “The Role of Della” by John Wooten; “An Ongoing Examination of the True Meaning of Life” by S. W. Senek; and “The Winged Man” by Jose Rivera.
The Ives piece is one of Simone’s favorites.
“‘Words, Words, Words’ explores the actual philosophical observation that three chimps typing into infinity will eventually write Hamlet,” he says. “Our actors are having a grand time rehearsing being apes.”
Sophomore theater and journalism/mass communication major Tori Lanzillo of Victor portrays one of the main characters in “The Winged Man” — a girl who has to fight to convince her family and friends to believe the truth about her pregnancy. It’s a new kind of acting experience for Lanzillo.
“I like this play because it is a completely new experience,” she said. “You have 10 to 15 minutes to tell an entire story. You don’t have two hours to get into character, you start right in the middle and have to be able to bring out that intensity right from the beginning.”
“‘Winged Man’ is a stark, unusual, beautiful play. Professor (Becky) Misenheimer and I have wanted to produce it for quite some time,” adds Simone.
The shorter plays pose an acting challenge unprecedented for some of the cast, as this is their first experience participating in multiple shows and portraying multiple characters within the same night, including junior journalism/mass communication major and theater minor Makeda Loney of Brooklyn.
“Working on multiple plays at once for me right now is not too horrible. Since the genres of the two plays are completely different, I couldn’t confuse my lines or characters,” said Loney. “The plays are also short, which means we get to run them more and refine them each night we rehearse.”
Lanzillo echoes Loney’s feeling that the quick change of characters is an exhilarating challenge for an actor.
“Doing many short plays at once is something else that I have never done before,” Lanzillo said. “You have to change characters from one play to the next quickly, which is a challenge but a great experience.”
“This is my first time acting in the Garret space,” said Loney, who has appeared in SBU Theater productions on the Quick Center stage, “so it will be great.”
The cast also includes SBU Theater veterans Brett Keegan, a philosophy major from Syracuse and Chasity Brooke Perkins of Utica, Ohio; as well as SBU Theater freshmen newcomers Isaac Clayson of Allegany; Anna Martin, a biology major from Hawthorn Woods, Ill.; Whitney Downard, an undecided arts major from Vesta; and Hannah Vail, a chemistry major from Irving. Both Perkins and Clayson are theater majors. All the actors play multiple roles.
“One Act Festival VI: Knowing and Un-Knowing” features sets and costumes designed by senior theater and journalism/mass communication major Emily West.
West designed the costumes for SBU Theater’s “Dracula,” last season’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and this fall’s production of “More Than Before.” West’s designs have been entered in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region II. And her design work for “Knowing and Un-Knowing” are part of her senior theater capstone project.
“The design concept is based on multiple realities existing in a single space,” said West. “We’re working on pieces to cover the floor, the walls, and the ceiling, including a climbable tree and suspended objects. It will be a full immersion experience for the audience.”
While it has been longer than the usual two-year gap between the theater program’s one-act play festivals, Simone is looking forward to its revival as the second production in SBU Theater’s 10th anniversary season.
“It's going to be a funny, touching and surprising evening of theater,” Simone said.
“One Act Festival VI: Knowing and Un-Knowing” performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 30 through Dec. 2; and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in the Garret Theater. An audience talk-back follows the Friday night performance.
Reserved tickets are $8 for the public, and $6 for seniors, students, and SBU employees. Phone the box office at 716-375-2494. Free student rush seats are made available, to students from any school, one hour before show time: one ticket per valid student ID, in person, at the box office.
Audiences are advised that “One Act Festival VI: Knowing and Un-Knowing” contains adult language and subjects.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them.