'New Voices' to showcase student talent

imageStudent writers, directors and performers will have an opportunity to learn and entertain through SUNY Oswego’s annual “New Voices” production, presented at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3, in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre.

A collaboration of the college’s English writing arts and theatre departments, “New Voices” showcases six original one-act plays written, directed and acted in staged readings by students. Steve Mazzoccone and Adam Sweeney, who coordinate the event, both said their involvement stemmed from the chance to learn about the collaborative process.

“The really special thing about ‘New Voices’ is that we get to work with the writers,” said Mazzoccone, a senior dual major in English and theatre from Schenectady. “The whole collaboration is a really unique learning opportunity.”

Having the writers available, either on campus or at rehearsals, helps the directing process, he added. “If I have any questions, I can just drop the writer an e-mail,” he said. “I’ll even ask the actors for their input. Everything needs to be clear because we only have 10 minutes to present the story.”

For Sweeney, who has participated in “New Voices” as a writer in previous years, switching to the director’s role has provided a new perspective. “It’s one thing to write it . . . it’s another thing to see student actors, close to being professionals, act it out with their interpretation,” said the senior double major in English writing arts and theatre from Oswego.

Serving as both a director and writer this time around has impressed upon Sweeney the division of responsibilities between the two roles, he said. As he directs, he knows how much writers value the work they have put on the page, and the interaction involved in someone else translating it to the stage.

“The director is just interpreting what was written, not changing it,” Sweeney said. “It’s good to have constructive criticism, as long as it’s constructive.”

The coordinators will each direct three 10-minute selections from student writers. Mazzoccone will direct Jan Best’s “Splinter,” Ryan Garney’s “F*** Delta” and Sweeney’s “Necessary Faith.” Sweeney will stage Shana White’s “Dream Self,” Dan Preston’s “Cigarettes” and Ryan Sprague’s “Toss of the Three-Sided Coin.”

The student directors also have learned about juggling the considerations of working with three writers and a total of seven to 10 actors for the various pieces. Presenting the one-act plays in staged readings “is a little easier in some ways, but also harder because we have to focus on the language more,” Mazzoccone explained. “The actors have to project their whole character through their voices and not so much through their movements.”

There is no admission charge, and the public is invited. The production will feature a brief intermission. A reception will follow the Saturday evening performance.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Shared ‘Voices’—SUNY Oswego students, from left, Luann Cardinal, Ryan Sprague, Steve Mazzoccone and Adam Sweeney, hold a rehearsal meeting for one of the short plays in the college’s upcoming “New Voices” production.

(Posted: Mar 10, 2005)