Festival of One Act Plays Features Original Work by UI Theatre Arts Students

Wednesday, April 23 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – April 16, 2014 – The traditional Festival of One Act Plays at the University of Idaho provides a way to highlight and give experience to budding theatre directors and playwrights in a public setting. 

But this year’s May 8-10 event, featuring 11 world-premiere plays, puts a new twist on things: The directors and playwrights began collaborating at the beginning of the year instead of working separately, creating each play’s idea together using Chekhov’s short stories as inspiration.
 All the plays were written by current or former UI students from either the MFA Dramatic Writing program or the undergraduate playwriting classes. 

“It’s a wonderful synergy of collaboration with the directors, writers and performers,” said David Lee-Painter, a UI professor of directing. “We are looking forward to seeing how the process shapes things and what we learn.”

For Jacque Peres, from Great Falls, Mont., the One-Act Play Fest is her last hurrah before graduation in May.  Peres is directing “Out of Darkness” by UI graduate Cory Williamson, and she said it’s been a positive learning experience.

“It’s been an interesting dynamic to work with the playwright and ask evocative questions to gain a deeper understanding,” she said. “At the same time, you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”

The script has gone through numerous revisions, with director and writer working in tandem, Peres said. “I gave him notes on the script and he gave me director’s notes.”

 Peres invited Williamson to the audition as well. “I wanted his input,” she said. 

“It’s all ‘home-grown,’ said Robert Caisley, a UI professor of playwriting, who with Lee-Painter came up with the idea of the Chekhov theme as a way to deepen the understanding of the Russian playwright and author.

“Every year we produce the festival, we’re amazed at the writing talent coming out of our program, talent which is now starting to make a splash in theatres around the country,” Caisley said. “This annual collaboration proves that participating in the early developmental life of a new play provides a marvelous educational opportunity – not only for our playwriting students, but also our student directors, designers and actors – who come to appreciate, at an almost biological level, the complicated relationship between a play text and its performance.  There is nothing quite like the experience of working on a new play to truly understand how theatre functions.”

The festival is designed to coincide with the spring production of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” directed by Caisley and opening April 24.

The one-act plays will hit the stage over three nights, May 8-10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Kiva Theater in the UI Education Building. Admission is free for UI students and $5 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the door.


Kelly O’Neill 
UI Theatre Arts Department
208-885-6465 or 208-874-7698 

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