Three Dramas And A Comedy
By SUE SUCHYTA
Henry Ford College offers three dramas and a comedy for its annual student-directed One Act Festival, through June 28 at the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center.
Technical theater director Gerry Dzuiblinski said this year’s festival features four one-act plays, each about 30 minutes long, by established authors, that most audiences have not seen performed on stage.
“We’ve got a wonderful company of actors, technicians and directors who are working together to make sure not only their show works well, but that the entire ensemble and festival does,” Dzuiblinski said.
He said the audience seating is intimate, in the first four rows of the house, to help ensure comfortable seating with close proximity to the actors.
The Zoo Story, written by Edward Albee, and directed by Christian Plonka of Dearborn, features Matt Van Houten of Allen Park as Peter, and Michael Cochran of Detroit as Jerry. Plonka said he wanted to direct The Zoo Story because he is a big fan of absurdist theater.
He said Albee gives the content of the show, and the plot line, and leaves the audience to image much more.
“You are never going to get all the answers,” Plonka said. “That is the point of Edward Albee. Anything he writes, he leaves the audience wanting more. And that is also what I think should draw audiences.”
27 Wagons Full of Cotton, written by Tennessee Williams, and directed by Anita Holsey-Banks of Westland, features Samantha Kenbeek of Dearborn Heights as Flora, and Dearborn residents Christian Plonka as Jake and Hani Beydoun as Silva Vicarro.
Holsey-Banks said the biggest challenge she faces directing the show is digging into the characters’ emotions with her actors and trying to get them to connect to the roles from a historical perspective. She said the show is set in the late 1930s, early 1940s.
“It’s kind of a dark comedy, really, but it’s a really quirky show,” Holsey-Banks said.
Variations, by Peter Appleton, and directed by Reba Neely of Detroit, features Chris Boskovski of Dearborn Heights as Keith, Luna Nasser of Dearborn as Mary, Jumoke Alaji of Detroit as Allen, and Angie Lai of Taylor as Jane.
Neely said she hopes gaining directorial experience will help her become a better playwright.
She said as the director, her biggest challenge is getting the cast to understand and represent her interpretation of the play.
“As a director, you have a vision, and you want that to come across to the audience,” Neeley said. “You want your actors to actually get in line with that vision, and get behind it, and try to make that realized up on the stage. So that is definitely the most challenging for me.”
She said she chose “Variations” because it was not that well known.
“I always like to step outside the box,” she said. “I don’t like to just be a cookie cutter, and do everything that has been done before.”
She said “Variations” is what happens when a couple gets together, and how people can take different meanings away from the same encounter.
“Like you can say something one way, and I will interpret it another way,” Neely said. “It is about different interpretations – how you look at things.”
The Problem, a comedy by A.R. Gurney, and directed by Josh Neilson of Inkster, features Dearborn residents Andrew St. John as the husband, and Brighid Briscoll as the wife. After three years of acting at HFC, Neilson felt it was time to try directing. He said the biggest challenge is getting his cast to stay consistent, instead of searching for different ways to keep it fresh.
He said the play has a lot of twists and turns, and the seemingly unrealistic elements of the story will draw audiences into it.
“There are certain things that make you believe it is real, even though you are like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” Neilson said.