Student Writers, Actors Collaborate in Short Play Festival

For most, the 7th Annual Ten-Minute Play Festival was about fire, the theme of this year’s set of five short plays. However, for eight-year-old Damon Glencross, the afternoon was also about ice cream, which emcee Harrison Goodall PO ’16 promised him.

But Glencross wasn’t the only one excited by the events in Pomona College’s Seaver Theatre Feb. 13. The audience would probably have stayed even if Goodall hadn’t provided the warning to the audience: “If you want to leave, you have to present one of the ushers with a doctor’s note.”

The festival started off with a bang as Oliver Shirley PO ’15 dropped trou at the opening of “Eight Point Something,” receiving a few wolf whistles for his bright white tighty-whities. The play, written by Alex Genty-Waksberg PO ’15 and starring Shirley and his and Genty-Waksberg’s close friend David Connor PO ’15, was set in a bathroom.

Sporting a pair of dorky shoes in addition to his shining underwear, Shirley’s character chose to rename himself Trent to preserve his scatological anonymity. In contrast, Connor, wearing a leather jacket, chose the name Wolf. The tension that this initial coolness divide produced eventually devolved into an argument about which of the two guys gets the best boners.

“It was so much fun,” Connor said. “Especially my senior spring, to work with two of my best friends—to act alongside of one of them, and to be directed by one of them—it was just a fun, great experience.”

The Marxist “Kapital, Chapter 11,” written and directed by Christian Romo PZ ’15 and starring himself, Naomi Bosch PO ’15 and Mark Irwin PZ ’15, was as much a critique of corporate life as a set-up for some very funny slapstick.

For example, Irwin, who played the boss and whom Romo has known since their first year at college, slapped himself in the face with his own shoes in ecstatic shame while employee Bosch stood on a chair and yelled about their desire to rollerblade.

“This was the first time we got through without any interruptions … we only had two weeks,” Romo said.

Impressive performances delivered with minimal preparation was a theme of the night. Goodall, who also wrote “Bonfire Heart,” the third play of the afternoon, prepared very little for his role as emcee, despite the loud laughs he was able to draw from the audience.

“We actually didn’t do anything for it until today at noon, and then I watched the show once, and I left and came back,” said Goodall. “I sort of winged it.”

“Bonfire Heart” was the most serious of the five plays of the festival, dealing with the relationship between a girl who had committed suicide, played by Katia Mafra Spencer PZ ’18, and her boyfriend, played by King-Edqux Robinson PO ’15.

There was a dim, center-stage light, no set, and one prop—a pink jacket. Robinson and Spencer touched only one time throughout the entire performance. Allison Mercer-Smith PO ’15, the director of “Bonfire Heart,” held rehearsal barely over five times.

“It made it easier that I had really good actors,” she said.

The largest cast of the festival, using one-third of all actors involved, was “meet @ docks 9 p.m.” Claire Boyle PZ ’15 directed Katie Cohelan PZ ’15, Ella Glasser PZ ’15, Hana Wuerker PZ ’15, Isabelle Platt PZ ’15 and Isabelle Semler PZ ’15 in their roles as middle school girls. Adorned in various pajama-based attire, the group gathered together to perform the last rights for Horace, a dead beetle.

“Meet @ docks 9 p.m.” had one of the most bare sets of the show, featuring only a large wooden picnic bench. Boyle believed that her spare set fit the theme of the event.

“With such a short play, pared-down and simple feels like the way to go,” Boyle said.

The final play of the afternoon, “Chubby Bunny,” written by Muzikar and her playwright husband Jonathan Josephson, was the lightest (one might say ‘fluffiest’) performance of the afternoon—something Muzikar worked towards intentionally.

“Jonathan writes a lot of plays that are a little darker, and are adaptations of classic horror literature,” Muzikar said. “And I don’t like scary things, so I’ve been asking him for years if we could write a fluffy, marshmallow-y, fun play.”

The play starred the completely white-clad cast of Manya Janowitz PO ’15, Evan Fenner PO ’18 and Joseph Reynolds PO ’15, and was directed by Mary Lyon Kamitaki PO ’15.

Like the other plays, this cast had rehearsed fewer than seven times, but Kamitaki was still pleased with their performance.

“The cast was super energetic and really talented, and definitely pulled off more than what I had hoped,” she said.

According to his older brother Cai Glencross PO ’18, Damon has yet to receive the ice cream he was promised.

Editor’s note: The article originally stated that Harrison Goodall PO ’16 was a member of the class of 2015.

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