USAO students (from left) Morgan Knapp, Tristan Mars and Brian Coburn rehearse for an upcoming performance of Coburn’s autobiographical play Twisted Trees. The piece will be one of six one-act plays showcased in the upcoming Festival of One-Act Plays scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on April 4, 5, 11 and 12 in the Davis Hall Little Theater.

Student directors, postmodernism showcased in upcoming festival

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The work of student directors will be on display in an upcoming Festival of One-Act Plays scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on April 4, 5, 11 and 12 in the Davis Hall Little Theater at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

The festival is the culmination of a two-term directing class that gives students the opportunity to explore the craft of directing and practice their skills in lab productions with student actors.

Unlike most spring and fall productions of the Theatre Arts Program, the festival was designed to cater specifically to the educational needs of the students, rather than the general theater-going audience, said Katie Davis, associate professor of theatre arts.

“Because these pieces are exemplary of the postmodern theater, the festival serves students who are taking the postmodernism seminar,” Davis said. “These plays are also cultural experiences for students who are taking the final sequence of World Thought and Culture this trimester as well as art, literature, and philosophy students.”

Postmodernism is a term applied to many kinds of art produced after the Second World War that question the foundations of what art is, how it reflects culture and meaning, and how it is consumed.

“Without a context for the theatre style we are exploring,” Davis said, “some of these plays will come off as being inside jokes for theater people, which, in some cases, they are. We don’t want to alienate or offend general audiences looking for a fun evening of theater.”

To make sure that the “right” audience makes it to see each show, Davis and her student directors have assigned MPAA style ratings to each show, ranging from PG to NC17.

There is no charge for attending the festival but donation boxes will be set up in the lobby for those interested in supporting the program.

While the festival may explore the more avant-garde territory of modern theatre, it also features a first for USAO’s theatre arts program under Davis – staged performance of an original piece written by a student.

Twisted Trees, the only piece of the festival that Davis is directing, is written by senior theatre arts major Brian Coburn, of Moore. The autobiographical play deals with Coburn having lost his mother in the tornado that destroyed Moore on May 3, 1999 and his journey through grief in the fifteen years since.

“Part of postmodernity is self-reflexive theatre that blurs the line between the actor, the play and the performance,” Davis said. “We spent the first four weeks of the rehearsal workshopping this one-act, using avant-garde 1960s experimental theatre techniques with the company to develop it. I’m excited about Brian being able to perform his work with this company.”

In addition to Coburn’s piece, the festival will feature one-act plays by playwrights Samuel Beckett, Christopher Durang, Tom Stoppard, Maria Irene Fornes and Ethyl Eichelberger.

Each show will be performed twice with the shows presented on April 4 being repeated on April 11 and those on April 5 repeating on April 12.

More information about the Festival of One-Act Plays can be obtained by calling 574-1310.