By: Meghan Hudson, Arts & Life Editor
Towson University students will be showcasing “An Evening of One Acts: Part 1,” a student-run series of one-act plays from Feb. 26 through 29.
This event will highlight three separate one acts from three different eras in time, and three different genres.
The first play to be showcased is “Three Skeleton Key,” which was written by James Poe, and is being directed by TU student, Samuel Pomerantz. It is a radio play about three lighthouse keepers and their struggle to survive when a ship bearing a strange cargo arrives on their reef.
“It’s been a very exploratory and inventive process, especially with the cast work because it’s a radio play, so it heavily relies on sound effects,” said Pomerantz. “It was really fun trying to get my cast to explore the sound effect and timing aspect of it, and then eventually I found myself exploring right alongside them so that was really fun.”
Radio shows, as implied by the name, are plays which were experienced via the radio, beginning in the 1930s. This strictly audio experience has not been lost on many, as many radio shows have since been translated onto the theatre stage and preserved.
“Three Skeleton Key” features foley artists who produce the sounds associated with the story in real time on stage, as well as narrators to the story. They utilize objects such as spaghetti noodles, potatoes, shoes, metal boxes, and more.
“With how an actor’s voice is usually their instrument and their body and physicality, we don’t really get either of those” said Frankie Marsh, a foley artist for “Three Skeleton Key.” “It’s always just like, where did I put the potatoes? When does the trap door come? Not having an actual instrument or following some sort of melody is chaos, however, it’s still really fun because part of the fun is the exploration.”
“Three Skeleton Key” is a horror genre production. Though you can’t see the horror, you can hear it.
“I hope that this can be a story that everybody enjoys because I know that horror is sometimes not the genre that people will go to as their genre of choice,” said Pomerantz. “However, what I’ve liked advertising the show as is that, it’s not a horror story that you’re going to see, it’s a horror story that you’re going to hear.”
Following “Three Skeleton Key,” is “A Marriage Proposal,” written by Anton Chekov, and directed by Towson student, Sophia Delogu. This play is a comedic one-act farce.
“There is a father and daughter, and they have a neighbor, and the neighbor comes over and is hoping to propose to the daughter,” explained Delogu. “This gets put off because they keep on arguing and they can’t come to an agreement.”
This is also Delogu’s first big directing job here at Towson.
“This is my first time directing more than two people,” said Delogu. “Overall the cast has been really great. They take direction really well, and it’s interesting to see them take what I’m imagining and actually put it into movement.”
Finally, the evening concludes with the production, “Who Killed John Doe?” This play is written, produced and costume designed by Towson University student Alexandra Harrington, and directed by Sydney Pope, also a TU student.
According to Harrington, it’s a murder/mystery/comedy making fun of classic who-done-it tropes with a lot of puns, and a lot of sex jokes.
“The play started as a 10-minute play in a project for a playwriting class I was in a few years ago,” Harrington said. “I wanted to have fun with it. It’s a murder-mystery-comedy. So, I wrote that and was like, this is kind of fun, I want to explore this a little bit more. I really wanted to extend the play a little bit more and see if it could become a studio production and it did.”
For Pope, directing alongside the screenwriter has been a different, yet rewarding experience.
“I have directed in the past here at Towson and also outside of Towson locally,” said Pope. “It’s been really fruitful to expand some of the tools that I’m using as director, and in building more vocabulary. It’s also incredibly rewarding to see Alex’s work come to life. It’s so funny, and that’s been incredibly rewarding.”
Though the pair and the cast have been working together to ensure a smooth transition from page to stage, there were still some challenges to be overcome.
“I’m a really serious director, and working with a really funny piece, it’s been challenging for me to stretch and let people just play rather than having such a tight reign of control,” said Pope. “I’m grateful to have directed this piece because it stretches me as a director to say okay, let them have fun, let them explore, let them improv.”
As the title implies, John Doe dies in this play, something that made playing John Doe more difficult for actor, Eric Panuela.
“I’m an energetic person as is, so being still figuratively and literally, it’s really hard because I want to do a million different things,” Panuela said. “I’ll ask Sydney [to do something], and sometimes I just need to stick to a direction and I have to be reined in because it’s a really fun show but at the same time there has to be a strict direction, and sometimes I may stray away from the course of that.”
Jade Eisenacher, who plays Wilhelmina Peck, said that she struggled giving depth to her character, who was originally intended to be ditsy.
“For me, since its a very energetic show, and I’m not dead, I wanted to play around with my character and give her a little bit more depth then just being super out there and kind of dumb,” Eisenacher said. “I played a lot of silly characters before, so I wanted to give her a little bit more behind her. That’s been fun to explore not making her super ditsy and being a little bit of a stronger character for women. This is also my first time performing on a Towson stage so that’s been really scary for me, but I’m really excited.”
Overall, the cast and crew hope for the audience to have a good time.
“I just want [the audience] to laugh,” Harrington said. “That’s the goal. Everything is too serious in life right now. I get we’re in a very serious time, but I think sometimes we get too distracted with wanting our art to make a statement that we forget that it’s also supposed to be entertaining.”
Isobel Springer, who is acting in “Three Skeleton Key,” believes their work on this production displays a variety of skill sets.
“The wonderful thing about this, is that it shows an amazing array of what our department has to offer, because it’s a whole bunch of different shows doing different things,” Springer said. “It’s showing student writers, student directors, student actors all coming together to create amazing art in one night,”
The production will begin running on Feb. 26th in the Ruth Marder Studio Theatre (CA 3044), and will run through Feb. 29. Tickets cost $5 for everyone and can be purchased at the TU box office online or in person.