In the Director’s Words: One Act Plays Happening This Weekend

Here are the student directors themselves talking about of some of the one-act plays they are premiering this weekend.

Variations on the Death of Trotsky

Variations on the Death of Trotsky is a 1994 one-act absurdist play, written by David Ives. It comes from a collection of one-acts called “All in the Timing,” all of which deal with issues of language, communication, and words. The play opens with the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotksy (played by Mark Levine-Weinberg ’14) reading an encyclopedia article that predicts his own assassination. Trotsky and his wife (played by Yuan Qu ’14) try to deal with the article’s implications, and are helped along by the assassin himself (played by Nathan Siegel ’15). The play delves into the themes of mortality, fate, and the power of the written word, and it explores these ideas with both humor and deep compassion.

“The center of the play is the relationship between Trotsky and his wife, and we’ve worked hard to make this relationship as real as possible, even in the middle of the play’s farcical and absurd action. So it doesn’t matter if the audience knows everything or nothing about Trotsky as an historical figure, because in my direction I’ve tried to treat him as an emotional being. The script splices comic action with moments of real drama, and I think it is the constant switching between the two that makes the show disconcerting, hilarious, and, ultimately, powerful. I’d love it if audiences emerge from the show thinking about the “big questions”, but I’ll honestly be happy if they just laugh a lot,” said Director Daniel Browning ’14.

Life Under Water

“Patrick [Ross '15] and I decided we wanted to direct a one-act together last semester and we started reading as many plays as we could get our hands on. We weren’t sure what kind of piece we wanted to create, but when we read Life Under Water by Richard Greenberg we both pretty much instantly knew that we’d found the play we wanted to direct. Greenberg is an incredibly skilled writer, and the show has a great wistful feel to it. Life Under Water is about three love affairs that take place in the Hamptons in the course of one summer. It is about the consequences of boredom, and trying to define oneself in the context of other people. All the characters in the show are flawed, and over the course of the show, they all confront those flaws in different ways. Ultimately, the show is a funny, biting, and witty story of people trying to grow up at all different stages of their lives,” Maddie Charne ’14.

“Patrick and I are lucky enough to be working with five really great actors. With these actors we’ve tried to really explore each of the characters that Greenberg wrote into his show. We want to emphasize the humor that each of these characters use to cope with their flaws and with the ennui that permeates their lives. Hopefully the audience will empathize with the characters the way we all have come to,” said Charne.

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