Powder & Wig explores campus in “10 Minutes”
- Powder & Wig presents Pirandello’s Henry IV
- Theater and Dance present student shows at New Works Festival
- Conner launches Practicum
This weekend, members of Powder and Wig re-defined the way people on the Hill view theater and standards of performance with their masterful production of the One Act Festival, “Back in 10 Minutes.” The title was a reference to the structure of the festival, which included half a dozen short plays, no more than 10 minutes each in a “guerrilla” style that brought the audience to multiple locations on campus for each show. While the One Act Festival has been a Powder and Wig tradition on Hill for a number of years, it was the first time that the audience was mobile.
As a large audience gathered in Pulver on Saturday night, Powder and Wig members Josh Rothenberg ’14 and Lena Frostestad ’12 split the group in half, starting at opposite sides of the program and meeting in the middle. Show locations included the front of Bob’s, LoPo, Miller Steps and the Pierce Lounge.
Members of Powder and Wig came together to work as both directors and actors, rehearsing from already-produced as well as original scripts. Christine Kashian ’14 explained that she “was in the unique position of having a show with a working script because the playwright was also the producer of the One-Acts and [an] adviser from the Powder and Wig board, Mike Trottier.” Kashian added that the differences in location seemed to add a fresh dynamic to the performances. “We were told we could basically perform anywhere,” she said, “so we got to try doing theater in spaces we normally wouldn’t have. I know I’ve never done theater outside!”
While the stage may have been different for the actors, the rehearsal process was essentially the same. “I had individual meetings with each of the three actors and gave them a lot of questions to think about their characters and really let them develop naturally,” Kashian said of her directorial method. “The hardest part about the rehearsal process was having Spring Break right before tech week, but the actors worked with it really well and reviewed their stuff over break so we could come back and pick up right where we left off.”
Kendall Hatch ’13 performed with Ryan Winter ’13 in “Smoke Screens,” a short play dealing with the audition process and the chameleon-like ability to change character, with the same interaction being repeated over 50 times in different voices, situations and styles. Hatch explained, “Preparing for this sort of role had the unique challenge of not developing a character, because the character is an actor. Instead, I had to creating about 40 different characters and voices.” Although she was one of two actors, she added, “Preparing the role was completely collaborative because we had to assign a persona to each scene.”
While plays like the one Hatch performed gave a lighthearted view on life, other shows took on heavier and more relevant messages. In “These Hands,” Ginger Brooker ’14 played a character “[struggling] with the idea of freedom from an abusive father who lacks compassion, tolerance, and love. It deals with the issue that many Colby students have brought to light this year: silencing the victim. The father abuses my character, Gracie, to the point where she can no longer speak. To some extent, this play is about Gracie finding her voice and speaking up to her abuser.”
The show, Brooker explained, was written by a Colby student’s high school theater director and was brought to the Hill after the student received permission to shorten and adapt the story.
Brooker added that her excitement for the performance’s Colby debut intensified after “seeing student after student file into the Smith room in Runnals until it was completely packed. Although I had hoped for a large audience, none of us really knew how many people would show up on a Saturday night. Seeing a variety of students from all class years in the audience really made me happy to be a part of the production.” The exploration of space and location impressed the audience, especially the seamless organization of the event, complete with members of Powder and Wig sending text messages to their peers to coordinate arrivals and confirm attendance. Tyler Harley ’15 was one of the many audience members who enjoyed the performances. “My favorite play was The Persistence of Memory,” he said. “It was a play with two men, one young and one old, pacing around on Miller’s steps talking about death and memories.”
While the performances differed in theme, location and content, the reactions from both audience members and actors seemed to be the same. After each play, the performers were met with resounding applause, and as the audience moved from place to place, the air was filled with excitement and anticipation. “I hope we continue to do this,” Brooker said. “I am sure Shakespeare would agree that it truly makes ‘all the world’ a stage.”