This fall, the Drake University Theatre Department is producing four student written and directed shows, which will be presented in the Student Playwriting Showcase.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these shows will be filmed in the William S.E. Coleman Studio Theatre and posted to the DrakeUTheatre YouTube channel for a two week period, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 12.
One of the four shows “Seawall” is written and directed by Brandon Shreve. In “Seawall,” Jack, a young poet from Louisiana, is with his parents on their annual summer trip to Galveston, Texas to visit family. The story is told with original poetry and a blues guitar.
Shreve said that writing and directing this show was one of the most creatively stimulating experiences he has ever had.
“It’s an under-represented story in the sense that often times, queer representation in the media illustrates coming out stories as back-story vignettes or short scenes,” Shreve said. “Different perspectives are rarely covered and oftentimes the stories are more complex than they are made out to be.”
Ben Jaeger, who plays the lead role of Jack, thinks that people will enjoy the show because the script is fresh and compelling,
“It also integrates poetry and music within the play, which is something that I think most people will not have seen before,” Jaeger said.
Another show being produced is “Crossroads,” which is written and directed by Jonah Montoya. “Crossroads” is a short play about two lifelong friends who decide, after graduating high school, to become cocaine dealers.
Montoya thinks that audiences should see this show because the cast is delivering impactful performances that are centered around realistic people.
“This show is different because it relies solely on the relationship of the characters,” Montoya said. “The presence in the space is a clear view into another person’s vulnerability, which allows the audience to truly connect and understand the characters.
Maria Gnoza is a senior who has written, directed and is starring in her one-woman show, “Killing Roast Beef.”
“Killing Roast Beef” revolves around Bri, a young college student, must decide whether or not she will have an abortion. Gnoza will play 13 different characters, including inanimate objects, that guide Bri through her decision making.
Gnoza thinks that the performance should be extremely entertaining and admitted that there are moments of improv that landed in the script, which should make it seem fresh.
“What differentiates this show from others is its structure and style. It is a one-woman show, but those are typically very narration heavy,” Gnoza said. “With ‘Killing Roast Beef,’ it’s all dialogue, which makes it feel much more like a TV episode compared to a traditional play.”
The final show being presented in this showcase is “The Bling Ring,” written by Ben Jaeger and directed by Morgan Erwin.
“The Bling Ring” is based on the real-life stories of a group of Hollywood Hills teenagers who robbed over fifty celebrity homes between 2008 and 2009. The show examines the personal connections of the five members of the ring and how their dangerous celebrity obsessions changed their lives.
Erwin was thankful that this show was pretty easy to direct in the time of COVID-19, as the characters do not interact with each other onstage.
“I will say the masks brought a new challenge for the actors,” Erwin said. “In covering half of the face, the actors must work even harder to have perfect articulation and enunciation as well as learning to emote solely using their eyes and eyebrows as far as facial expressions go.”
All four of these shows will be available to watch at http://bit.ly/StudentPlaywritingShowcase from Oct. 29 to Nov. 12.