Freshman One-Act Festival
Plays written by various authors
Acted and directed by various freshmen
Feb. 7-9 at 8:00 PM in Murray-Dodge
The Freshman One-Act Festival here at Princeton, as the name would suggest, provides the opportunity for freshmen to direct and play roles in one-act plays. The festival features a line-up of four different performances, each offering their own flavor to the evening. It is a kind of four-course meal if you will – not at a renowned establishment exclusive only to the upper echelons of society, but a homely meal at your local diner. The entrées are short contemporary plays.
For those who derive pleasure from the works of late twentieth-century American playwrights, the evening likely proved to be rather enjoyable. For the rest of us, offered below is a mercifully brief synopsis of the plays.
The Universal Language
Written by David Ives
Directed by Adin Walker
The performance features con artist Don Finninneganegan teaching Dawn di Vito, a reserved young lady with a stutter, the universal language, Unamunda. The language school is a confidence scheme Don runs to cheat his victims out of $500, which is the tuition cost for his course. Dawn masters the gibberish and in so doing loses her stutter. An emotional relationship is established between the two, and Don, in his unbridled guilt reveals he is a fraud. But Dawn maintains that the language is real, as they can both speak it to each other. In what could only be described as the most groan-inducingly clichéd moment of the evening, the two begin to kiss. The new couple is then interrupted by a presumably insecure young man seeking lessons in Unamunda. The lights fade out as Dawn and Don agree to take him on as a student. And by the way, I suppose I should mention that the director took the liberty of exercising his creative license by changing the gender of Dawn – an unnecessary maneuver that adds little to the play.
Interviews with Loneliness
Written by Ann Wuehler
Directed by Oge Ude
The play consists of three females on stage ranting via monologue about the emptiness they feel at the lack of a male figure in their lives. The script is full of terrible writing; it’s overly repetitive and bland. Take this gem for instance:
Why do those women always go back, why do I keep going back for more. As if they had a choice. What’s my choice – hooking? Working two jobs? Shit. Why do they drum it into our heads that it’s better to be beaten than be alone? That they can change, that we can change them. Makes the world go round, you know?
What Wuehler lacks in style, she makes up for in vulgarity. Now, one can make the case that the use of such crude language and such a boring style are intentional writerly decisions used by the author to convey the sense of how dismal the lives of these three women are. The problem is that there is no variation in writing style. The three women (all from different backgrounds) speak like the same person. Again, one could argue that this too is intentional. It solidifies the oppression of females by males and no matter what the background, the end result is the same as these women try to live in a patriarchal society. Perhaps, but then all one gets is twenty minutes of droning, and whatever deeper meaning Wuehler is trying to convey could have been done in five. The acting helped a little bit, but not by much. One of the actresses, whom I shall not name, couldn’t even get her lines straight and had several lapses of memory – but then again, given how bad the play was, I could not tell if that was ultimately due to the writing or the actress.
Written by Grace McKeaney
Directed by Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn
This one is not much better. The acting was much better than in the last, but the writing was still meh. We find a kindergarten teacher having a mental breakdown over the course of the semester. Four different actresses portray the teacher, each with her own interpretation. And that’s about it, really: one could sit through this play for twenty minutes and get nothing much out of it other than what I have already told you in a few sentences.
And yet, we find that there is hope:
The Drunken Sisters
Written by Thornton Wilder
Directed by Rachel Wilson
Bravo. This was truly the highlight of the evening. The writing in this one was stellar – and should be considering three-time Pulitzer Prize recipient Mr. Thornton Wilder is the wordsmith of the piece. The Drunken Sisters is, as director Rachel Wilson puts it, “the ancient Greek tragedy of Alcestiad, reinterpreted by a twentieth-century American legend”. The acting, too, was on a level which exceeded my expectations given the previous three acts. High praises must be given to both Matt Volpe and Evelyn Giovine for their portrayal of Atropos and Lachesis respectively. The latter, might I add, was unsurprisingly good given her lovely performance as Desdemona in Othello earlier this academic year. Volpe’s role as Atropos of the Three Fates required him to don woman’s clothing, and this only added to what proved to be twenty minutes of almost continuous laughter. The Drunken Sisters was a good way to end the otherwise disappointing evening.