Under the Lights, a theater club at Claremont McKenna College, presented a series of one-act plays last night, Nov. 21, which will also be performed tonight, Nov. 22. The performance consists of five individual productions, each lasting 15 minutes or less. The event is entirely student-run, and the organizer, directors, actors, and technical crew are all CMC students.
Under the Lights president Laila Heid CM ‘14 organized the one-acts this year.
“It’s entirely student-run so I feel very proud. I think it’s amazing that we were able to put it all together and student directors with amateur experience were able to come up with things that are so funny. I think it turned out well; I’m really excited about it,” Heid said.
Though CMC is not particularly known for its arts programs, Under the Lights allows students of all experience levels to explore the world of theater. According to Heid, members of Under the Lights vary from theater majors to those who were involved with theater in high school to first-time performers. It provides an alternative to the Pomona College theater program for students who would like to continue acting or directing in a more casual setting.
Many members of Under the Lights, like Christus Ahmanson CM ‘16, are thrilled to have found that happy medium.
“It was a good way for me to continue acting while acclimating into a new school environment. Under the Lights is definitely something I enjoy,” Ahmanson said.
The one-act shows allow students to try out the various roles of theatrical production. Some Under the Lights members, such as Ahmanson and Celia Flinn CM ’16 participated in the one-acts as actors as well as directors. Flinn, who has a background in theater from high school, read about the one-act auditions on a flyer in Collins Dining Hall. According to Flinn, despite the slim presence of arts at CMC, the community is still supportive of classmates who participate in Under the Lights performances.
“It’s definitely not emphasized, but I was shocked last year at the number of students that came out to the play. Even though the arts aren’t emphasized at CMC enough, people do definitely care enough to support their friends and go to performances,” Flinn said.
Flinn added that the student body anticipates that CMC president Hiram Chodosh will help revive the importance of the arts at CMC.
“Our new president really cares a lot about trying to diversify what a CMC student is like, so hopefully he’ll be more perceptive to the arts,” Flinn said.
The five plays featured in the performance are titled GPS: An Auto-Erotic Comedy, Check Please, Controlling Interest, Post-Its, and There Shall Be No Bottom. Some actors are featured in more than one show.
GPS: An Auto-Erotic Comedy tells the tale of a GPS system that falls in love with its owner. The machine becomes jealous of the owner’s girlfriend, and things take a turn for the worse when the cell phone follows the GPS’s lead.
Check Please has the largest cast. The show follows a man and a woman who each embark on a series of blind dates. However, their mystery dates do not turn out to be what they expected.
Controlling Interest is set at a business meeting between four (very) young men who must make an executive decision on whether or not to like girls.
Post-Its is a more serious production in comparison to the rest of the one-acts, which are mostly comedic. The audience is given insight into the lifelong journey of a couple through the Post-it notes they leave each other. One of the two members of the Post-Its cast, Michaela Ferguson CM ‘17, has a history in theater and was happy that Under the Lights gave her the opportunity to continue performing in college. The one-acts allowed her to meet other students while doing something she loves.
“My favorite part of the one-acts was getting to know my fellow co-stars and director. It was cool being able to work with them and I really enjoyed the acting,” Ferguson said.
There Shall Be No Bottom is about three actors and a stage manager who run into various obstacles during their performance. The stage manager tries to save her show despite her actors’ shortcomings. Flinn, who plays the stage manager, relates this one-act to Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.
It is evident that Under the Lights put a lot of effort into the one-acts, which gives their performances a unique energy. The nonstop laughter and applause made it clear that many CMC students happily came out to support their friends and classmates.
“While they may not be professional quality, there’s a lot of enthusiasm around the Under the Lights productions. That’s because everyone in an Under the Lights production really wants to be there, and I think that really shows through,” Ahmanson said.
Under the Lights also puts on a full-length production in the spring. For those who missed the performance yesterday, there will be another tonight at 7 p.m. in Pickford Auditorium.