'New Voices' staging offers creative, learning opportunities

students rehearse Student playwrights, directors and actors are gaining experience while providing entertainment through the “New Voices” festival of one-act plays, set for 7 p.m. March 31 and April 1 in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre.

Admission is free for this annual staged reading of six 10-minute plays.

Unlike traditional productions, this collaboration between SUNY Oswego’s English and creative writing and theatre departments has the playwrights actively involved in the development of the piece.

Students Amanda Acobes and Sara Weiler will each direct three short plays. Acobes will helm Quinn Etchie’s “Endearing Aspects of Each Other,” Melinda Januszca’s “Flushed” and Stuart Stevens II’s “Ramble Kid.” Weiler will stage “A Time to Grieve” by Kimberly Saunders, “Happy” by Madeline Phillips and “Strangers and Robots” by Kevin Hollenbeck.

“I think that ‘New Voices’ is the perfect outlet for new writers to express themselves and have their words brought to life on stage for both them and the audience to experience,” Acobes said. “I really enjoy the material each year because it is always fresh and different. The material ranges in genre, and overall it is just really exciting material to work with.”

Acobes, who acted in previous years’ “New Voices,” is enjoying the “fun and exciting” opportunity in the director’s chair. She and Weiler have worked on everything from casting to leading rehearsals to publicity, honing or picking up skills along the way.

“Scheduling has probably been the most challenging aspect of this production so far,” said Acobes, a junior theatre major from New York City, who juggled this project with acting in college productions “Lost in a Viral Paradise” and the upcoming “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” “I’ve definitely learned how to balance my time as well as the time of others more efficiently, and it’s kept me on my toes.”

The writers are learning about collaboration and what it takes to translate their words to the stage.

“I became interested in ‘New Voices’ when I realized it would give me an opportunity to work with a director and actors,” Etchie said. “Plus, it would give me some experience for when I bring my plays out into the real world.”

A junior adolescence education major from Fort Ann, Etchie describes “Endearing Aspects of Each Other” as “a romantic comedy with a contemporary, witty feel to it” about high-school sweethearts who meet for the first time in 10 years at a reunion. “As an actress myself, I know what it’s like to be on the stage, but I want to see how things work from the other side as well,” Etchie said.

Januszca, a junior elementary education major from Liverpool, submitted a piece she worked on for Brad Korbesmeyer’s playwriting class at the professor’s suggestion. “I thought it would be fun to see it read on stage,” she said.

The process has led to several revisions of her piece, a dark comedy about three siblings trying to decide what to do with their mother’s remains.

“I expect to learn that after you write something, anything, you should revisit it to make it your best,” Januszca said. “Also, I am not a writer, but seeing as I had such fun, and I entered this, in the future I should try new things that are outside of my comfort zone.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Stage collaboration—From left, Laura Pavlus, Daniel Nau, Amanda Acobes and Quinn Etchie talk over details at a rehearsal for the upcoming “New Voices” festival of one-act plays. They are among the student playwrights, directors and actors gaining experience through this annual collaboration. The admission-free staging of six 10-minute plays will take place at 7 p.m. March 31 and April 1 in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre.

(Posted: Mar 16, 2007)