Audience members can do more than applaud to show their appreciation for two new student-written plays performed on campus this week.
Tomorrow and Thursday, the playwrights will hold question and answer sessions with the audience to obtain feedback following staged readings of the works, “For Fear of Love, For Love of Fear” and “Bit of Wit.”
“The Playfest is all about the text,” said Allison Seranno, a fourth-year Music student who directs the staged reading of “For Fear of Love, For Love of Fear” tomorrow. “It’s for the playwright to hear their words and get the audience feedback.”
School of Music students Angela Zuck and Steve Best developed the plays in the theater department’s “Playwriting Toward Production” class.
Zuck wrote “For Fear of Love, For Love of Fear,” a dark comedy that follows a man, Victor, lost in his obsessive love for a woman named Maya. Victor shows up on Maya’s doorstep, and the audience watches their conversation unfold almost in real time. “It’s like a what-if situation,” Seranno said. “These two people look back on a relationship they used to have, and it takes a look at what if they had stayed together.”
Although the actors will carry their scripts, the staged reading will look more like a finished play with scenery and props, Seranno said.
Best’s play, “Bit of Wit,” uses a different format. It consists of a series of scenes linked by the narrator’s comments in between scenes. The play also contains some influences from Walt Whitman’s poetry. Seranno portrays a character in one of the scenes at Thursday’s staged reading.
“Bit of Wit” confronts social situations ranging from the dynamics of a dysfunctional family to the decision-making process involved with obtaining breast implants. “It questions the audience, but it doesn’t give them time to think about the answer,” Serrano said.
Seranno, a directing major, took the course with Zuck and Best. The class allowed the three students and the professor, theater faculty member OyamO, to exchange feedback on the two plays. “It’s really neat to be able to react to their words immediately and have (the playwrights) take my opinion and change things,” Serrano said. “I see things in the script that I actually suggested.”
Serrano pushed for some changes that will appear in the staged readings, including adding strength and some control of the conversation to the love object character of Maya in “For Fear of Love, For Love of Fear.”
Although she faced some challenges directing new material, Seranno said she enjoyed the experience of approaching the play without preconceptions about how it should eventually turn out. “I just went with my first instinct and developed the characters in my own mind,” she said.
Seranno said she feels this experience helped her understand how to work with new plays from a directing perspective. She said she hopes to have the opportunity to direct a new show in the future. “It’s neat to see a work in progress,” she said. “It grows with every day, all toward the final product.”