One-Acts evoke multiple emotions

The DVHS Drama program’s student directors and writers presented a chain of relatable life events in both comedic and dramatic performances on the nights of May 23-25 in the student-run One-Acts.

The Student Directed One-Acts Festival, a show unique to Dougherty, consisting of a compilation of multiple short plays, brought the aspirations of student writers and directors to life onstage. Six acts, consisting of five short plays and a series of improvisation games, included an array of topics that Dougherty students could relate to.

Three of the short plays, “Everything’s Alright,” “Surprise Party” and “The After Party,” were written by students Nathan Tandowsky, Ryan Chiu and Bryce Moerbeck, respectively, and two, “DMV Tyrant” and “Perfect Score,” were written by official publishers Christopher Durang and Katie Henry, respectively. In between, the DV Improv Troupe performed a series of entertaining games that involved interaction from the audience.

Admittedly, the turnout for the One-Acts Festival was much smaller than anticipated. The seats that were filled consisted mostly of friends, parents and relatives of the cast.

“DMV Tyrant,” written by Christopher Durang and directed by Taylor DuFrane, brought the audience to a wretched point in life that many might face eventually. A customer (Jacob Gilbreth) walks into the DMV requesting assistance to the dilemma of his expired temporary license, while his permanent license never arrived in the mail. Confronted by the customer, the DMV clerk (Alexa Richmeier) gives him an excruciatingly hard time trying to “assist” him.

Although the play was completely relatable, unfortunately laughs were few and far between and the actors seemed tense, occasionally fumbling with their words.

The show progressed to Nathan Tandowky’s original play, “Everything’s Alright.” A spoof of an old play called “Third Base”, both incorporated the simple misguidance that occurs through pure stupidity. Due to her lack of direction, Kate (Katie Stroud) becomes confused by James’ (Griffin Puatu) directions. Eventually, with all the misconceptions on left and right turns, they are pulled over by a policeman (Clemente) and the officer adds to the confusion.

A more simplified and subtle comedy, the act was unique but also slow and a bit dry. The audience seemed to miss many would-be punch lines, and an audience member was overheard saying brutally, “Can we leave?”

Yet the work and artistry of the act itself cannot be undermined. Clemente, a history and Academic Enrichment teacher at Dougherty, landed the role after telling Tandowsky two years ago about how he didn’t get into any plays throughout his high school and college, years.

“‘I’ll write a play for you!’ Nathan said, and he did. I’m here because of him,” Clemente said.

Clemente also advised all high school students to “be in a play before you leave high school; it is one of the coolest things you’ll ever do!”

The third performance was Chiu’s original play titled “Surprise Party”, which centered around Bart (Mikhail Adlin) and his lonely birthday, until his friend Case (Joey Rodriguez) appears at his house with a present to cheer him up. Bart’s crazy friends Drake (Jun Yu), Sydney (Rebecca Okmin), Patty (Marie Bast) and Farqual (Kyle Doan) stream in one by one and invade his house. Bart believes his birthday had taken a turn for the worse until all of his friends jump out and yell, “Surprise!”

The play, littered with surprisingly sexual innuendos, strange characters and lively jokes, was a definite hit for the audience and quickly eased tensions from the previous plays. Many audience members, such as sophomore Ashal Shahzad, named the play as one of his favorites.

“[I liked] ‘Surprise Party’ the best because of Jun Yu’s acting,” Shahzad said, a fan of Yu’s loud and eccentric personality onstage.

New cast members, such as Adlin and Rodriguez, performed for the first time at Dougherty and credited their experience to Chiu’s guidance.

“Ryan Chiu made it all happen, and this is just the beginning,” Rodriguez said.

In the next performance, directed by Olivera and written by Moerbeck, “The After Party” detailed a meeting between college sophomores Penny (Devyn Diolazo) and Aaron (Puatu). A take on the classic theme in which naivety meets maturity and both realize they can learn something from the other, the well-written play set a serious and somber mood.

Moerbeck wanted to convey through his play that “for people who relate more to Penelope, it’s time to grow up. For [those who relate to] Aaron, the past may have sucked and you may have [had] hard times, and your life is not always going to be that way.”

Olivera shared her experience directing the play, saying it was a more challenging position to help people grow.

The DVHS Improv Troupe’s performance followed “The After Party”, reigniting the liveliness in the show. ACDC, consisting of Samay Dubey, Puatu, DuFrane and Chaitanya Sharma, played against the Bubble Wrap Tribe, consisting of Chiu, Olivera, Tandowsky and Garrison Wong. Hosted by Dillon Aurelio-Perata, the teams played a total of five games, in which suggestions were elicited from the audience for character and plot ideas. Nothing was scripted, which made for an entertaining and interactive performance.

Aurelio-Perata closed the One-Acts Festival with the play he directed, “Perfect Score”, by Katie Henry. Revolving around four high school students, troublemaker James (Dubey), try-hard Hannah (Natalia Khoudian), hippie student Ivy (Haas) and soccer slacker Alex (Nick Sawhney) question college decisions and how they will change their future. With college counselors, teachers and parents, all played by Colin DuFrane and Kelsey Villareal, the four protagonists find out more and more about the college process to becoming adults. Struggling between grades, past events, familial issues and clashing ideologies, these four students embark on a 45-minute production of their life from the end of their junior year to the end of their senior year.

Aurelio-Perata wanted to put on a “‘dramedy’ that people could relate to and find themselves somewhere onstage.”

The play itself was long and drawn-out, and seemed to be more of a wake-up call to students to face reality than an entertaining performance. Although well-acted and a spot-on representation of the variety of DV students, students watching may have been reminded about the difficulties of getting into college, something most students would rather not be reminded of on a night during which they are trying to enjoy themselves.

Yet the feat in which a production containing multiple meaningful acts was completely student-run is by no means looked down upon, and is admired by audience members, cast and crew alike.

“This is my first time in the One-Acts and I regret not doing it sooner,” Haas said. “It’s so much fun doing the One-Acts,  I’ve bonded with a lot of people that I didn’t know before. I made many friends and really grew as an actress.”

The One-Acts Festival led the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions through the lighthearted nature of plays as well as the dark realities of life. Although audience opinions varied on each play specifically, the overall Festival was a success and is definitely looked forward to next year.

Vega was also pleased with the performance, and hopes next year sees even more participation.

“It’s less intimidating to audition to the student directors, rather than auditioning to me,” Vega said in hopes that this encourages more students to audition in future One-Acts.