The Northwestern Theatre Department will host its 19th-annual World Premiere One-Act Festival at 6:00 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22, in the Keith Allen Blackbox Theatre. Selected from the playwriting class last fall, 13 student-written one-act plays will be performed. Students in this semester’s directing class, taught by Karen Barker, will be directing the original plays.
In Jeff Barker’s playwriting class last semester, NW students were instructed in the art of writing plays. Theater major Jana Latchaw was first exposed to playwriting by Jeff Barker.
“I had never written before besides children’s shows in children’s theatre,” Latchaw said.
Along with studying how to be a playwright, students in the class were taught various tricks of the trade. Jefff Barker taught students to use contractions, and truly focus on how people converse. He even sent students around town for inspiration.
“When you think of dialogue, you don’t think about writing how people actually talk,” Latchaw said. “There were days that we were asked to go to the Hub, a restaurant or the Old Factory and creep on conversations. Through observing, we found different ways to listen and write things down.”
The students in Jeff Barker’s playwriting class each composed a one-act. These 10–20 minute scripts were read by Barker and a collection of 13 were chosen for production.
Along with having his piece selected for performance, theater major Jacob Christiansen will be taking the role of director this weekend. Christiansen is familiar with this title.
Even though he has had extensive experience with directing in the past, Christiansen acknowledged the complexity of this particular directing endeavor.
“It is a challenge to have so many plays going on at the same time,” Christiansen said. “Thirteen plays plus main-stage plays is difficult to schedule, find enough actors and find enough (rehearsal) places.”
Although it will be a difficult task, Christiansen said he is eager to take on the challenge of directing. His aim is to stay true to the script of his classmates.
“The mission is to do the playwright the best possible justice (and) to do the play the best possible way,” Christiansen said. “That is an exciting task.”
The instruction styles of Jeff and Karen Barker allow space for students to express their creativity. Because of this, the premiere festival showcases stories that are based on student’s real-life experiences, as well as imaginative scenes and characters.
“From farcical comedies to Greek satyr plays, it all comes from the places and important stories of the playwrights,” Christiansen said. “What people will see is a wide variety of plays.”