Starting this Thursday, April 11, the Binghamton University Theatre Department will be presenting plays that are “In The Works” as part of their spring 2019 Studio Season. The event will showcase two student-directed one-act plays, “Seascape with Sharks and Dancer” and “You Belong To Me.”
“Seascape with Sharks and Dancer,” written by playwright Don Nigro, is a romantic drama with comedic elements. It tells the story of two imperfect strangers, Ben and Tracy, who meet when Ben rescues Tracy from drowning in the ocean and brings her back to safety in his seaside home. Over the course of the night and morning that follow, their rival personalities come to literal and metaphorical blows, but their abrasive chemistry leads to a connection that helps two lonely people feel a little less alone.
Samantha Goss, a junior majoring in theatre, is the director of this production. She said part of her motivation for picking the script came from a desire to push her boundaries as a director and prepare herself for future projects.
“You don’t always get to pick the scripts you work with out in the real world, so I wanted to find a script that did have challenges to it,” Goss said. “The blood and the costume that she’s wearing, it was a very complicated thing to get it to look like that.”
Discussing the difficulties of the production, Goss stated that the rushed timeline for rehearsal was an added challenge to an already difficult show.
“As far as the rehearsal period went, we had three and a half weeks, including tech, so that was terrifying,” Goss said. “We had a week before spring break, and then we came back and we had two weeks and then into tech, which was kind of crazy.”
Brianna Simpkins, a senior majoring in political science who plays Tracy, emphasized the realism of the play and praised its characters for their authenticity.
“The idea of theatre I feel like a lot of people have in their head is a lot of bells and whistles, and they forget that in every piece of theatre you can find some kind of truthful element to it,” Simpkins said. “This is on the more truthful end of theatre.”
Aaron Penzel, a senior double-majoring in theatre and business administration, plays the character of Ben. When asked what the play offers to the student body who might be interested in seeing it, he said the script’s success in presenting a genuine human connection
“I think that this is a really good representation of what people are,” Penzel said. “There’s shifts in the show, there’s different wants, there’s different needs, there’s tug back and forth. You get close just to pull away, which is what we do as people.”
“See it because it’s real,” Simpkins added.
The second play, “You Belong To Me,” is a surrealist dark comedy with all emphasis on the dark. Written by playwright Keith Reddin, it portrays inexplicable violent thoughts that work their way into a person’s psyche, with each scene other than the final one featuring the same three characters in imagined murders. Characters take turns being the victim and the killer or killers as the play contemplates a variety of ways that an ostensibly happy marriage and friendship could take the darkest turn possible.
The play is directed by Jenna Brady, a senior double-majoring in cinema and theatre. She said that while trying to choose the one-act play she would direct, she came across the script at the last hour and fell for its unconventional nature.
“I think part of what drew me into it was that when I first read it, I was like, ‘What is going on?’” Brady said. “It’s very surreal and a bit absurd.”
Gabriel Pinciotti, a junior majoring in theatre who plays the character of Larry, said he thinks that the rehearsal process has helped the cast and crew become more collective in their vision of the production.
“We all went from having preconceived notions of what the show should be and then all coming together on one joint idea that everybody agrees with,” Pinciotti said.
Brady echoed this sentiment and stressed the role that a cooperative atmosphere played in helping her vision come to life.
“It was really fun to direct because, especially as a student working with a bunch of other students, it was just a really collaborative environment,” Brady said. “I had an amazing cast and crew, and we were just a bunch of passionate students who wanted to make something great, and really be able to make it ourselves.”
“In The Works” will run at 8 p.m. from Thursday, April 11 to Sunday, April 14 in Studio A Theater for “You Belong To Me” (FA 192) and Studio B Theater for “Seascape with Sharks and Dancer” (FA 196). It will cost $4 at the door to see both shows.