Festival of One Acts worthy of celebration

This past weekend the festival of student-directed one-acts showed the level of professionalism that UVM students are capable of.The themes of the one-acts were as varied as the history of theatre itself  but each held a spark of brazen experimentation.”This year is incredibly exciting because there is a lot of non-traditional theatre,” UVM senior Calvin Utter, the student director of “Two Soldiers, said.” “They’re pushing the boundaries.””It was different,” “Ode To Artaud: The Theatre of Cruelty” performer Laura Davidson said.”It was a nice break from ‘normal’ theatre.”Each one act was distinct. Some stayed within the bounds of reality, portraying glimpses into the lives of different characters and defining their troubles: dissatisfaction, shifting moods, promiscuity, loneliness, family hang-ups and more.Others aimed for the complete disregard of reality, which led to both ridiculous satirical comedy and disturbing, sorrowful expressions of human trials.UVM Senior theater majors directed the one-acts as the culmination of four year of studies.They had to follow certain guidelines: they could have no more than four student performers, had to be approved by a faculty member, and had to have a budget of $20.Needless to say, everyone had to get creative in making the productions feel complete.”The director right off the bat was very open to all our ideas,” Davidson said. “We had a lot of freedom in our movements, our interpretations.”Even with very little scenery and few props, not one production felt incomplete.Often it only took a couple of well places boxes, a blanket or a bit of fog to create an entire world surrounding the actors.The actors themselves were very impressive in how naturally they took to their roles.Certain actors were able to suggest a change in mood with a simple gesture, while others could change their manners entirely in a second.In “Ode To Artaud,” the actors were able to simulate vomiting and nervous fits, while in “Ubu Roi” body language and flailing about was depicted in a comical manner.For entirely student-produced plays, these one-acts compete with the four major faculty-directed plays this year in their sophistication and subtle manipulation of certain effects such as lighting and sound. In one piece, lighting was used to suggest a different hair color when in reality there was none. In another, drums and cymbals contrasted the seriousness of a struggling relationship with the ridiculousness of the two child-like characters analyzing them.  “It’s more than just a bunch of plays picked out of a published book. There’s a lot of stuff that has importance in the realm of theatre history and there are a lot of plays that are not ‘nice’,” Calvin Utter said, “We’re creating art, not day-time television.”The Festival of One Acts was sometimes hilarious, sometimes shocking, sometimes sad and sometimes a combination of these three. The students took their limited resources and created a diverse art, a depiction of the ingenuity of these talented UVM students in their last hurrah.