Picnic and One-Act shows

Clara Kiss

clkiss@ursinus.edu

     Nearly every spring, Breakaway Student Productions (BSP), Ursinus’ student-run theatre group, puts on a One-Act Festival featuring student performers, designers, and directors. The production team is gearing up for its final event of the academic year, which will take place Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28 at 5 p.m. This year, the performance will take place outside the Kaleidoscope for the first time.

     The One-Act Festival has historically taken place in the Kaleidoscope’s rehearsal studio, a small space tucked into a back corner that only accommodates a limited audience. With two-thirds of its executive board graduating in just a few weeks, Treasurer Henry Gustafson said, “BSP wanted to go out with a band. What better way to do so then attempt something never before attempted?”

     Gustafson, one of the executive board’s four seniors, continued, “this year, Breakaway is making the ambitious move to stage the performances outside.”

     The performance will be a picnic-style theatre experience that will include a limited quantity of non-alcoholic beverages and audience members should BYOB (Bring Your Own Blankets).

     Commenting on Breakaway’s first foray into the dinner-theatre realm, BSP’s Artistic Director and playwright Mya Flood advised students to “bring some food and get ready to be entertained!”

     Since the fall of 2016, BSP has been committed to producing plays written, directed, designed, and performed by Ursinus students. According to BSP president Skye Gailing, Breakaway made the shift after noticing how many students were producing full-length and one-act works.

the organization wanted to highlight the talent of the student body and give them the opportunity to see fully-staged versions of their plays.

     The past two falls, Breakaway has put on “The Playground” by Angela Bey (dir. Tom Armstrong) and “Argos Burning” by Arthur Robinson (dir. Charlotte Torres). In Spring 2017, Breakaway organized a multi-day One-Act Festival featuring twelve works, nine of which were written by students. The Festival was produced in conjunction with students taking a department-run theatre course on directing.

     This year’s line-up includes “House Keys” by Mya Flood, “On Your Shoulders Inc.” by Claire Hughes, “An Opera In No Acts” by Daniel Walker, and “There Are No Ghosts In This Garden” by Mads Bradley. Respectively, Mads Bradley, Daniel Walker, David Walters, and Rowan Davis will be directing these pieces.

     Breakaway plans to use this festival to bring awareness to certain topics important to the campus community. “I was particularly interested in making sure the characters use the word ‘trans’,” said senior Mads Bradley. “I wanted to destigmatize the phrase that non-binary people’aren’t trans enough’ by making sure that [the theme was visually apparent] on stage but also making sure it was an explicit statement.”

     Sam Hageman, a senior Breakaway veteran, succinctly previews some of the themes of the One-Act “House Keys” she’s acting in: “Black women matter. […] Colorism destroys communitites.”

     “The One-Acts are always a great opportunity for students to express themselves through theatrical works,” remarked Claire Hughes, BSP’s Secretary who wrote one of this year’s pieces. She added, “It’s going to be a blast!”

     Breakaway also hopes that this One-Act Festival will help attract prospective students to Ursinus. On April 6 during the Admitted Students Day activities fair, Breakaway passed around announcements for the Festival to some enthusiastic admitted and enrolled students. According to Gustafson, about a dozen prospective students expressed interest in attending with their families. Since National College Decision Day takes place on May 1, just after Breakaway’s performances, the organization hopes that the One-Acts will help sway some students in favor of Ursinus as they contemplate their choice of college for the next four years.

     The performances will take place Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28 at 5pm outside of the Kaleidoscope. Admission is free and plenty of chairs will be provided for those who do not wish to sit on the ground. Updates on location will be emailed to the campus in case of inclement weather.

     Students wishing to find out more about Breakaway Student Productions or this year’s One-Act Festival should contact the club’s email bsp@ursinus.edu.