Blackburn College held its fifth annual short play festival on Friday, Feb. 12. The festival featured five plays written, directed, and performed by students, totalling about an hour of performances. Blackburn students had the option to see the event live, only needing to reserve one of the available 34 seats in order to do so. The festival was also live streamed on the Department of Music and Theatre’s Facebook page.
“We took two weeks to put everything together,” said Izzy Gibbel, who worked as the producer, stage manager, and a director for the festival. “It was a huge time crunch.”
“Our first directing meeting was January 27th and I don’t think I’ve paused since then to take a breath. It’s been a lot of decision making, scheduling, and just running through rehearsals since we had a limited amount of time,” added playwright and director El Hermansen.
In order to keep everyone safe for live performances, everyone was required to wear masks and actors had to avoid touching each other. Props and mics were also regularly cleaned during and after rehearsals. Actors also had to prepare their makeup and costumes in their dorm rooms instead of backstage.
All the plays featured two to three characters with minimal use of props and sets. Thus, the performances focused on the actors’ ability to convey the story of each play. The plays themselves feature a variety of tones, ranging from comedic to serious, with themes like grief, friendships, and partnerships.
Even with limitations caused by COVID-19 protocols, the festival was very successful. All of the actors did a phenomenal job performing as their characters, especially those who had multiple roles. Transitions were smooth between plays, and everything finished on time. Though the festival involved a limited number of people, it still went very well. It was clear that everyone put in a lot of effort to put on a great performance for the audience, regardless if audience members were watching live or remotely.
“This is my first time participating in the festival and I was a little concerned about it, but everyone has made me feel very welcome and answered all of my numerous questions,” said Hermansen. “We have a really good team to work with. It has been a lot of work but overall, my experience participating has been great!”