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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The McCormack Theater Host Productions of Student Written Plays

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After the performance the cast of “Four Tuxes and a Limo” thank the crowd.

 

 

UMass Boston continued to show support for cultivating student writers and artists with the student playwright festival, which ran March 6-9.  The event was different from last year’s staged readings. This time, student-written works were full productions staged in the McCormack Theater with faculty-designed sets and lighting.

“I thought that they were very well done. I saw the ones last time, too. I thought that all of the authors were very talented,” said Mark Chason, who had come to see his son, Rick, perform. “This is what I like. I think it’s a great idea that they give these kids an opportunity to write a play and then have them see it.”

The Saturday night crowd, though a bit thin, left the theater looking happy — and satisfied.

“Most of them were funny, the other was very intense … I liked that one a lot. It was a nice balance,” said Bianny Cepeda, who was there that evening to watch her boyfriend, Chris Louis, play in “Surprised,” where parents discover their daughter’s boyfriend is black — and “Four Tuxes and a Limo,” where three men console and often jeer at a friend abandoned at the altar.

Even those who were new to UMass Boston’s theater scene were impressed.

“It was our first time,” said friends and family of Vicky Rateau, who premiered that evening in “Bloom” as Joan, a case worker for a convicted female felon, Marcy (Cat Roberts). “It looked really professional. We would stop by again; all the actors did very well. We’re proud of [Vicky.]”

“It was really good. I’m glad I came,” said another member of the audience.

The plays were directed by Cliff Odle, who had guided students in earlier staged readings.

“I say this over and over again — I say this as a playwright as well as a director and actor — playwriting is the hardest thing. It’s hard to put together a play,” said Odle. “Sometimes, there’s often worries that it’s not working. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of issues, swollen ankles, all those things. Then you get this beautiful product at the end of all that, and I think that’s what we had right here.

“It motivates me to write more,” said Luis Turbides, author of “The Old Metronome.” “The first draft … was two years ago, for [Ginger Lazarus’] playwriting class. The play festival was coming around, I [thought] ‘Hmm, let me dust off this thing and submit it’ — and I did.”

Turbides, who mainly writes screenplays, was happy to see his work come to life. “I loved that accent she (Kendra) pulls when she’s doing Stella. It’s amazing how she made the lines work really well.”

“For the most part, the reason we did those is they were in good enough shape that we didn’t have to change a lot,” Odle said.

Although there is no word yet on whether staged readings will be produced next year, Miguel Fana, who performed in the festival, said, “I hope they keep it up. That’s what Cliff is hoping for – that they have one every spring, or every other spring.”

Given the exciting results of the festival and the benefit to both students and the university’s culture, the department of performing arts should strongly consider returning student work to the stage again next year.