Students join year-round worldwide play presentations

actors poseStudents at SUNY Oswego will premiere week 50 of the play series “365 Days/365 Plays” at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, during College Hour in Hewitt Union’s Bell Auditorium. Admission will be free.

“Every week, one theatre company, arts organization, or university will present one week’s plays in accordance with the plays for that week. We in Oswego are doing week 50,” said Milton Loayza, director of the plays and an adjunct professor in the communication studies department.

“365 Days/365 Plays” is a book of short plays by Suzan-Lori Parks. Once named the “year’s most promising playwright” by the New York Times, Parks received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in drama for her play “Topdog/ Underdog,” becoming the first African-American woman to win the award. Her many other honors include a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.

In 2002 Parks committed herself to writing an original play every day for a year. They range from one to five pages in length. Since last November, producers of the 365 National Festival have been presenting the plays in collaboration with theatres around the country.

Oswego students will perform 10 of the plays, one representing each day of the week plus three additional plays, or “constants” that are performed by every theatre doing a week’s worth of plays, Loayza explained. There is no theme, he said, because every play, which is two or three minutes long, is completely different from the others.

He said that each organization gets to produce its week of plays in its own style. “As a director, working with small plays is stimulating. You see the whole play in front of you,” he said, “and you can shape it into your own idea.”

Loayza said he tried to encourage his student actors to give him their input when deciding how they will interpret each play.

With room for embellishment and encouragement from Loayza, most of the actors said the experience was different from other plays they have done.

Travis Wafer, one of the eight actors in the plays, called them “non-traditional.” “Traditional plays are detailed-oriented. This play is open to interpretation, and we get to evaluate each character into who we want them to be,” said Wafer, a sophomore public relations major.

Undeclared sophomore Marisa McDermott, who is playing “the child” character in three of the plays, also emphasized how “different the format was” in comparison to other plays she has been in.

Loayza is still looking for people who are interested in acting for the ensemble scene, he said. Rehearsal schedules are slated by everyone’s availability on a weekly basis. 

Loayza and Wafer agreed that each play is “short, ambiguous and suggestive.” They said they hoped audience members will be “intrigued” and leave with their own understanding of the performance.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Play cycle—Students at SUNY Oswego are participating in week 50 of Suzan-Lori Parks’ play series “365 Days/365 Plays.” They will present 10 short plays in a free performance at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, in Hewitt Union’s Bell Auditorium. Student actors include (from left) Marisa McDermott, Laura Hawk, Aaron Londraville, Kristine Bishal, Travis Wafer and Sarah Sterling. Milton Loayza of the college’s communication studies department will direct the performance, which also features students Kim Greenawalt and Megan Ruskey.

(Posted: Oct 10, 2007)