Students honored for one-act plays

Top one-act plays of six SUNY Oswego student scriptwriters—including rare four-time winner Kimberly Ann Saunders—will appear in the “New Voices” staged readings at 7 p.m. March 27 and 28 in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre.

One-act play rehearsal.Saunders placing a winning script in the college’s annual 10-page-play competition for the fourth consecutive year is “an outstanding accomplishment,” said Brad Korbesmeyer of the English and creative writing department, who co-founded the competition 16 years ago. “It’s only been done once before.”

The senior from Fayetteville, a dual major in creative writing and cinema and screen studies, joins this year’s other New Voices winners: Katherine Boswell, a senior from Buffalo; Michael Koes, senior, Fulton; Andrew Main, senior, Troy; Eli Ouderkirk, junior, Holland Patent; and Steven Rutherford, senior, DeRuyter. Boswell, Koes and Rutherford each have won twice.

The live, public readings are collaborative, as a student director and student actors work with the writer of each piece to bring it to life. The performance is free and open to the public.

Korbesmeyer, who mentors the competition with Jonel Langenfeld-Rial of the theatre department, said there were nearly 40 entries. “This was a very strong year,” he said.

Inspired work

Saunders takes inspiration from the teen relationship books of David Levithan, whose award-winning titles like “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” have struck deep chords with adolescents nationwide.

Her play, titled “Oh, Life,” is about how relationships deteriorate through miscommunication. Its four characters include two couples at a party, though the guys are in one room and the girls in the other—and neither half of either couple knows the other is there until later in the piece.

Besides Levithan, who wrote “Nick and Norah” with Rachel Cohn, Saunders has drawn inspiration from Korbesmeyer, her adviser. “He’s my mentor, and he knows it,” she said.

‘Haiku of playwriting’

Korbesmeyer explained that 10-page plays—often called 10-minute plays and “the haiku of playwriting”—have a practical purpose. The “New Voices” competition gives students an intimate look at one of the steps professional playwrights follow to bring a work to the stage. There is a minimum of movement and other stagecraft in a staged reading, and the actors refer to their scripts, he said.

A committee of faculty and students judged the competition: Mark Cole, “New Voices” co-founder and chair of the theatre department; Dan Preston, a former winner of the competition as both an undergraduate and graduate, now an adjunct instructor of composition in English and creative writing; and Korbesmeyer, as well as students Andrew Sullivan of Utica, Merriya Valleri of Rochester and Megan Andersen of Scotia.

Student directors this year are Todd Backus of Saratoga Springs (Main’s play, “An Important Man”), Boswell (Ouderkirk’s “Desire”), Keegan Bushey of Utica (Rutherford’s “Say Grace”),  Teresa Kaczorowski of Greenport (Koes’ “The Passenger”), Aaron Londraville of Alexandria Bay (Saunders’ play) and Sarah Sterling of Clark Mills (Boswell’s “Interview by Chance”).

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PHOTO CAPTION: Play practice—Scriptwriter Kimberly Saunders, seated second from right, a SUNY Oswego senior creative writing major, works with a student director, Aaron Londraville, second from left, senior theatre major, to rehearse an upcoming staged reading of her 10-page play, “Oh, Life,” one of six winning entries in the college’s annual New Voices competition sponsored by the theatre and the English and creative writing departments. Saunders, whose one-act plays have been among the winners each of her four years on campus, also works with actors Adam Matta, left, junior graphic design major; Jake Luria, standing, sophomore theatre major; Jaclyn Mienkiewicz, standing, sophomore theatre major; and Katie Reid, right, junior theatre major.

(Posted: Mar 17, 2010)