Student work hits the stage

Senior Arthur Robinson to present series of original one-act plays at Ursinus Fringe Festival

Courtney DuChene

This semester senior Arthur Robinson has a unique opportunity to look back on his time at Ursinus as he prepares to present three of his one-act plays in a program titled “Mook Fruit: A Series of One Acts.” The three plays act as a reflection of Robinson’s time as an artist on the Ursinus campus, since he wrote one of them for each of the past three years he has been a student.

The individual plays are titled “Lemon-Aid,” “Forbidden Apple,” and “Sour Graves.” All have been performed on campus before.

Robinson started writing one-acts his first year as a part of Breakaway Student Productions’ One Act Festival in the spring. After editing the first play that same year, he continued to write plays and direct one-acts his sophomore and junior years.

Now, Robinson said he wants to “celebrate the incredible experience of writing the plays by putting all of them together into one performance.”

He explained, “I figured it was my senior year. I’m not going to get too many opportunities to broadcast the things I create before I become busy with whatever awaits me outside of Ursinus. I really loved directing them and putting them together already, so I figured why not do it again while I still can.”

The Ursinus Fringe Festival offers Robinson the opportunity to do just that. Inspired by similar festivals, such as the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, it offers students the opportunity to showcase their work alongside the work of other groups.

Robinson’s advisor, Professor Domenick Scudera, is one of the coordinators for the Ursinus Fringe Festival. Scudera recommended that Robinson present his plays at the festival after Robinson brought him the idea of incorporating all three plays into a joint performance. Robinson feels that the festival is a great venue for work he described as “completely student-driven.”

Robinson is interested in student-driven work because he believes it gives expression to unique voices.

According to Robinson, “Students are very young, very thoughtful people who are going through a lot of different changes in their lives. They’re confronting things from the eyes of someone inexperienced. When you obtain pieces from them, you can see the world in a whole new light because it’s a totally different perspective than you’re used to. I love student-driven works because it shows a young zeal and passion.”

In order to prepare his works for performance, Robinson contacted the actors who had previously performed in his plays. All but four of the actors were able to reprise their roles, and Robinson is excited to work with them again.

The actors seem pretty excited as well. Ursinus sophomore Anika Backelin-Harrison will be performing in Robinson’s “Forbidden Apple,” which she first performed in a reading last spring during finals week. The play incorporates some fairly heavy emotional content, but Backelin-Harrison found the process of performing it to be “de-stressing.”

Backelin-Harrison described the positive experience of working with Robinson again. “Having Arthur as the writer and director means there’s such a kind edge to it. Nothing he does is ever cruel. Everything he writes is going to have such a good [morality] and genuineness to it,” she said.

Performed with the intent of giving students a break from their stressful finals week,  “Forbidden Apple” was a much more informal reading with only blocking, specific movement and positioning by actors, and acting. This semester, the performance is “more serious,” Backelin-Harrison explained.

“It’s actually going to be performed; we’re memorizing lines. He’s putting himself into it more. He’s letting us interpret the material more,” she said.

Backelin-Harrison also mentioned that she is excited to see “how everyone else acts in their respective one-acts” and is excited for the “push and pull” between actors in her own performance.

The plays will be performed on Thursday, September 22 and Friday, September 23 at 5 p.m. in the Kaleidoscope’s Blackbox Theater. Robinson hopes his plays will entertain students and encourage them to get involved with Breakaway Student Productions. He also hopes that the Ursinus community will continue to support student-driven work and that more of it will be performed in the future.