HFC’s One-Act Play Festival Showcases Student Artists
Henry Ford College will present its annual One-Act Play Festival again this year, with performances running over two weekends, from June 20-30 in Adray Auditorium. For nearly twenty years, the festival has worked to promote the efforts of student directors, performers, and designers. Theatre faculty member Gerry Dzuiblinski serves as the artistic director, using his knowledge and experience to guide developing theatre artists. He sees the festival as a great teaching tool.
“It allows students to have their work performed in front of a live audience,” Dzuiblinski said. “It also allows them to get used to peer authority in a very intense way, as well as facilitating a collaborative process between actors, designers, and directors. There are some struggles, but having these experiences [both positive and negative] is invaluable for student growth.”
To be considered for a directing slot, students must have taken a directing course, typically offered in the winter semester. The course instructor or another faculty member can then recommend a student who has demonstrated potential. Active involvement within the department is another way to become eligible. Designers are likewise chosen from students who have enrolled in technical theatre classes, and who are interested in a particular area, such as scenic design, costuming, or lighting.
London Johnson, a theatre major who recently appeared in the department’s production of Ruined, chose to direct “Courage, Mr. Greene”, a comedy of manners set in 1930s Canada. His show will appear alongside three other student-helmed pieces during the first weekend. “Directing isn’t as easy as it looks,” Johnson noted. “It’s different than how you look at things when you’re acting. When I act, I’m pretty much just learning lines and creating a character. With directing, you also have to place moments and create staging for all the characters. It’s been quite a challenge.”
The remaining plays are a mix of comedy and drama, and include “Saturday Night”, directed by Sanya Gayles, “I Bring You Flowers” directed by Natalie Pares, and “Conflict”, directed by Jamie Pappas.
The second weekend will feature performances of “A New Freedom”, an original one act written and directed by Dzuiblinski, about the residents of a long-term substance abuse treatment center. He based some aspects of character and plot on his own personal experiences. Dzuiblinski decided to present the play when possibilities for four more student directors fell through.
“Audiences should expect an interesting variety of plays,” he said. “There’s predominantly contemporary work, but there is also period work. And with my piece, I hope they will gain a greater understanding of substance abuse issues among youth and of the recovery process, both physical and psychological.”
Performances run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm with matinees on Sundays at 2 pm. Adray Auditorium is located in Mackenzie Fine Arts Center on the college campus, 5101 Evergreen Road. All seats are $7. Seating is limited. For reservations or more information, call (313) 845-9817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.