By Elizabeth Hartmann & Emily Pawlowski | A&E Editor & Contributor
How are medieval France, a frozen cabin in Alaska and "Tuna," the third smallest town in Texas, similar?
They are the settings for three of seven student-directed plays. Each play is about one hour long and can be viewed admission free today and Saturday, May 12 at 7 p.m. in Mitchell Theatre.
Senior Bradley Jensen - "Author's Voice"
The first production tonight is directed by Jensen. It is a satire of the 1980's publishing world and a commentary on art by Richard Greenberg called "Author's Voice."
"The play is a power struggle featuring an attractive author, his sexy publisher, and the gnome who lives in his closet," Jensen said.
It addresses the question of whether a person's name or talents is more important. Jensen has loved working with his actors and seeing their perspective on the topics the play presents during their discussions.
Senior Kenzi Nevins - "Saint Joan"
Following Jensen's play is "Saint Joan," which is directed by Nevins and written by George Bernard Shaw, who is best known for his play "Pygmalion," which was turned into the musical "My Fair Lady." Shaw wrote "Saint Joan" after Joan of Arc was sainted in order to lift the white wash that had been placed over her character. Its themes of revolution and martyrdom encourage audiences to think about the causes they support.
"I think it's about how change pushed too quickly leads to destruction in people's lives and in the world around them," Nevins said. "I hope this play causes people to think about resistance and when and why it's appropriate. And when's the time to bring change in the social structures we live under and when's the time to just be silent."
Since there is no way of knowing how much was true about Joan of Arc, Nevins wants the audience to form their own opinion. Because Joan's personal relationship with God was unusual during that time period, this play addresses how different relationships with God can manifest. Nevins hopes that audiences will explore the answers to some of those questions.
Senior Tamara Peachy - "All in the Timing"
For the final production tonight night, Peachy is directing "All in the Timing" by David Ives. This play was originally made up of six separate stories, but this performance only includes three.
In the first act, "Variations on the Death of Trotsky," a Russian revolutionary and politician dies eight times onstage with an ax in his head. Though a comedy, it confronts the idea that oppressive people in power need to be overcome.
The second story, "Words, Words, Words," focuses on three chimps in a laboratory who are supposed to type until they write Shakespeare.
The final scene, "All in the Timing," is the classic story of "boy meets girl," but with a twist. A bell rings every time the boy makes a mistake or says something the girl does not like, and they start over until everything goes perfectly.
Peachy admires Ives' comedic timing and clever lines in all three plays.
"I love that even though I've already read this and analyzed it and rehearsed it that I'm still laughing when they deliver things," Peachy said.
Senior Ty Kinter - "Vivien"
Opening the night on Saturday is the play Kinter is directing called "Vivien" by Percy Granger, which gives a unique look at mental health and reconciliation. The play is about a daughter meeting her mother, who is in a mental institution, for the first time in 25 years.
"Everyone can kind of relate in some way to the struggles that are going on in the play," Kinter said. "I just want them to see a different side of mental health. We focus so much on anxiety and depression now days and there is so much more we can focus on. There are people outside of the Taylor sphere that have it much harder than we do."
Junior Suzie Quinn - "Brilliant Traces"
The next feature is Quinn's "Brilliant Traces" by Cindy Lou Johnson, a story about a man and a woman trapped in a cabin in Alaska after the woman ran away from her wedding. As the characters learn the difficulties that comes with running from their problems, this play addresses the importance of interacting with, being known and being heard by others.
Senior Grace Foltz - "Greater Tuna"
Humor follows depth in Foltz's play called "Greater Tuna," a comedic look at small-town America.
"Greater Tuna" is a fast-paced play, with quick set and costume changes. Although traditionally performed with two men playing 20 characters, Foltz chose to use two women and two men in her version. She hopes the audience will relate to the characters and see somebody they know in their own lives.
"I want people to laugh, obviously, but I want them to just kind of see the truth and ridiculousness of humanity," Foltz said. "That people from small towns are weird, and people from small towns are funny, and that there are so many types of different people from small towns that we've all been familiar with."
Senior Alexis Turner - "Feiffer's People"
The final production is "Feiffer's People" by Jules Feiffer is an experimental, satirical play made up of sketches and monologues with sharp, witty observations about the modern world. Turner appreciates the flexibility she has in directing this play, and has challenged herself by using a surprise technical element in her production.
"I hope that (the audience) will leave the play thinking about their own lives and how every interaction with others is important in the grand scheme of life," Turner said.
The Taylor community is invited to travel around the world with laughter while taking a hard look at life and human nature through these plays these students have worked so hard to produce.