Student voices were at the center of the Upper School Theater’s One Act Festival, which featured five short plays written and directed by our very own Cougar playwrights. “Untitled,” “The Long Fall,” “A Universal Experience,” “Elevator” and “Quiet Sunday Morning” found characters contemplating a crisis of faith, falling down a bottomless pit and taking an elevator ride with neighbors. Upper School Theater Director Lee Kasper, who has been reading student work for the past few years, has always been impressed by “the sheer number of incredible writers,” at Calhoun and wanted to give them a platform to share their talents. After the challenges of the last two years, he thought it was important to “feature the ideas and topics that were on our students’ minds.” The plays highlighted how they use their creativity to make sense of the world around them.
The Upper School Theater’s Winter Workshop is always a fast-paced project, and this year’s One Act Festival was no different. With five directors and playwrights, in addition to set designers and a cast of ten actors, there were many moving parts. “We did a lot of learning,” writes Lee, noting how much effort goes into getting to opening night. The cast and crew spent the month of January in rehearsals, including a week on Zoom, and had to work collaboratively as they balanced the different perspectives in the room. Tristan H. ‘24, the student stage manager, considered working with peers a fun and rewarding experience. They were empowered to be a leader as they organized costumes and set pieces, and discussed lighting, sound and staging options with the directors. As all the details came together, it was “almost like magic,” says Tristan.
Lee was awed by the entire production, watching as “students took words on a page and brought them to life” while doing something they’d never done before. Katrina L. ‘23, who directed “The Long Fall” and wrote “Quiet Sunday Morning,” appreciated the learning experience, as directing was something she had never had the opportunity to try. It was “absolutely incredible…to see the emotions come off the paper. I think it’s always better to actually hear your writing read out loud rather than just seeing it on a document.” Dante Z. ’23, the writer for “The Long Fall” and co-writer for “A Universal Experience” was similarly inspired by the “amazing job” his peers did of executing his “absurdist” vision. From the initial concept to the final product, the sense of camaraderie and teamwork among students shined through at the One Act Festival.
See below for photo highlights from each play.
"Untitled" by Aparna P., Directed by Olivia K.
At the climax of her crisis of faith, Ruth, a non believer, struggles to kindle a relationship with a higher power in a last attempt to save their suffering partner.
Ruth - Basma E.
"The Long Fall" by Dante S., Directed by Katrina L.
Gina is falling down a bottomless pit. No, literally. Like a REAL bottomless pit. As she falls, she calls her acquaintance Hazel, who teaches her how to accept her fate.
Gina - Kellyn G.
Hazel - Nat C.
"A Universal Experience" by Nat C. and Dante S., Directed by Charles A.
Following a middle school class over 30 years of their lives, "A Universal Experience" explores what it means to be a mere momentary blip. Through existential crisis after existential crisis, exploring the stars, and a good helping of Zabar's, the class learns about the universe and themselves.
Daniel/Ezra - Kellyn G.
Libbie/Selmers - Emily R.
Angus/Old Rose - Basma E.
Ophelia/Maddy - Violet F.
Rose/Villian - Katrina L.
"Elevator" by Violet F., Directed by Gabriel W.
Ever taken a ride on an elevator? Iris sure has and she's ready to introduce the world to the other people who take that ride with her.
Iris - Kali H.
The Nice One/The Egotistical One - Lydia B.
The Not So Nice One/Friend - Emily R.
Chatty Cathy/The One On A Call - Dante Z.
The One In A Rush/Cute Person - Izzy F.
"Quiet Sunday Morning" by Katrina L., Directed by Nat C.
It’s Sunday morning, and Sally quietly sits on her bed, thinking, pondering. She has been through a lot of hardships in her family that have left her shocked, but the call she got this morning made her realize that those hardships are just a part of life's course.
Sally - Violet F.
Producer: Lee Kasper
Production Manager: Peter Russo
Stage Manager: Tristan H. ‘24
Crew: Pepijn Oosterhuis, Alex Strassberg
Poster Design: Attilio Rigotti , Dante Z. ‘23
Student Designers: Olivia A. B. ‘25, Kennedy B. ‘24, Eliot B. ‘22, Molly F. ‘24, Jade K. ‘24, David K. ‘24, Frankie L. ‘24, Taylor N. ‘25, Davin S. ‘25, Zachary P. ‘24