By Morgan Brizee
Costume making, set designing and learning lines are what students in the Student Directed One Acts learn to do in four months.
The Las Positas College Student Directed One Acts is a part of Theater 31 — Drama Workshop. Students learn every aspect of what it takes to put on a play, from the technical side to directing. Even though it has been at LPC for more than 20 years, it is only offered once a year, with two performances at the end of the spring semester.
“Putting together a student-directed one act involves respecting the dynamics between an actor and their director/producer, but also everybody in that class has to be willing to get sweaty and dusty and do the manual labor that in any other production, would be done by the tech crew,” said student Jessica Villela.
Having students be in control of the entire show and be able to make their own decisions makes this production entirely student run.
Instructor Titian Lish does give her opinion and gives the students homework in script work and characterization worksheets, but the rest is up to the students.
“Her guidance and structure helps us to express ourselves as artists both individually and collectively as a cast,” Villela said.
Student directors got to pick the plays they wanted to direct, and auditioned students. Student actors and actresses had headshots and resumes for the student directors to look over during auditions. Each director was able to choose the actors and actresses who they wanted in their play. Some students are in more than one of the plays.
“They practice monologues and cold reads to get the feel of a professional audition. Us directors become casting directors and work to find pros and cons in auditions and resumes,” said LPC student Casey Anklam.
With this short time frame for students to learn the material and work together, putting on a show may be difficult. Again, it is a class — so they do have homework and in class assignments, and are at the same time trying to learn lines and work on backdrops.
“We are producing an entire show in the same span of time that a professional show would be put together but we only see each other two days a week! It involves a lot of independent studying, in lines and blocking,” said Villela.
Another difficulty is trying to work within the same space as other directors and actors working on separate plays during the class. Not being able to hear yourself think or being elbow to elbow with someone working on different sets can be difficult as well.
“Some struggles I find in this class is the off stage work, and trying to build sets in the shop around other sets being built. I would say sometimes five different sets are getting built at once in that shop,” said Anklam.
The four plays to be performed are “The Life and Death of Joshua Zweig” by Lauren Yee, directed by students Joshua Thompson and Alysse Wishart, “Query” by Bennett Fisher, also directed by Thompson, “Stuck” by Mike Ricca, also directed by Wishart, and “Boys Life” by Howard Korder, directed by Casey Anklam.
The Student Directed One Acts will only be showing at the Black Box Theater in the Mertes Center for the Arts on Wednesday, May 18 at 11 a.m. and Friday, May 20 at 8 p.m. The event is free, but donations are appreciated.