“Night of One-Acts” cast member reflects on experience

Left to right: Hayden Lane-Davies ’21 as Father Michael and Gerald Dryden as Joey (Photo courtesy Brian Luck ’22).

Teresa Ascencio

Contributing Writer

On Thursday, Feb. 6 and Friday, Feb. 7, the Theatre and Dance Department held their “Night of One-Acts,” a night of thrilling performances and an opportunity to witness the many facets of student talent — particularly in the arts — through both performance and directing. The two plays performed, “Within The Shadows” by Scott Shallenbarger and“Show” by Victor Bumbalo, are not only incredible contemporary dramas, but also touch on deep topics showcased beautifully through both the performers’ hard work and the student directors’ visions.

It was particularly an incredible experience for me, as it was my first time acting on stage for the College of Wooster. Furthermore, I experienced the rapid pace of performance production at the College, and I learned a lot about myself as an actress and performer. Overall, the two nights were filled with incredible performances that truly showcase the many talents present on the Wooster campus—beyond more commonly known aspects of our school, such as our talented athletic performances and well-known leadership programs.

“Within the Shadows,” a one-act play written by Scott Shallenbarger, takes place in a small apartment in New York, where two best friends — Sandra and Steven — catch up and recall memories after not seeing one another for an entire year. Sean, Sandra’s fiancé and Steven’s closest friend, has taken his own life while Steven was abroad in Europe. Combining both comedy and drama, the play explores the deep emotions both Sandra and Steven feel regarding the loss of their closest friend, Sean. This dynamic story explores the societal pressures regarding grief and the consequences of suppressing one’s deep emotions.

The one-act play “Show,” directed by Brian Luck ’22, encapsulates the struggle of Father Michael, a man “looking for God” and facing the adversary of his own self-identity. The story ventures through Michael’s time in a rest home as he receives visits from an orderly who he believes to be his lover. It further discusses the struggle of self-identity, specifically due to the effects of a confined space under a strong religious influence.

Being a part of the “Night of One Acts” was an incredible experience. I first heard about the opportunity to be cast in the show through student director Seth Green ’20, who was looking for an actress to play the role of Sandra in “Within The Shadows.” I can honestly say that I have never experienced such a fast turn-around after auditioning for a show. The process was so fast because we only had a short amount of time before our performance dates.

Overall, my castmate Gerald Dryden ’21 and I, along with the rest of the production team, had a total of nine days and 24 hours of rehearsal before we were to put on the show. So, one can imagine how quickly we had to put things together. This was also the first time I have performed within the Theatre and Dance Department at Wooster, which made the experience all the more interesting. While we had a limited amount of time before the performance dates, it made the experience all the more exciting and intriguing. I cannot wait to further discover myself as an actress and performer at the College of Wooster, and I look forward to going through the process of acting for the Wooster stage in the future.

Having the opportunity for students to both perform and direct through student-lead events enables student leadership within the arts and facilitates community growth. It is an incredible aspect of the Theatre and Dance Department at Wooster that is arguably undervalued by many students on campus. I encourage students to stretch beyond what they are comfortable with — whether that be school-run events or sports games — and also explore events run by students in the visual and performing arts here at Wooster. By doing so, students can support their fellow classmates while expanding the ways in which we think about performance around us. It is deeply significant to explore all aspects of student life on campus! After all, we are all at a liberal arts school for a reason, right?

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