For many first years (and upperclassmen) new to theater, Columbia’s theater community can seem intimidating at first—but that’s something Columbia University Players hopes to alleviate with its annual One Acts Festival.
Every year, CU Players’ One Acts Festival features a variety of one-act plays, directed, produced, and performed by Columbia students. For many involved in the festival, it will be their first time acting and directing in an on-campus production.
This year’s festival, which will take place Oct. 27 to 28 in the Glicker-Milstein Theatre, will feature three different plays: “Removing the Glove,” directed by Sandy Gooen, BC ’19, “Boy Meets Girl,” directed by Alexandra Haddad, BC ’21, and “Heart’s Desire,” directed by William Sydney, CC ’19.
Unlike other groups on campus that compile a production team after a play has been chosen, the technical team for the festival is chosen far in advance. By having an experienced technical team in place, CU Players is able to provide students who are newer to theater with more support in their respective roles.
This year, Lindsey Rubin, GS/JTS ’19, and co-producer Lauren Cannon, BC ’18, put together a production team months before the plays were determined. Rubin recalled the peculiarity of calling potential crew members over the summer and asking if they wanted to “work with three mysterious directors who don’t exist yet, on three shows we don’t have names for yet.”
Directors and actors were later interviewed and selected in early September. Each director in the festival is able to present a play of their choosing.
Haddad will direct Sam Wolfson’s play, “Boy Meets Girl,” a light-hearted comedy concerned with the budding romance of two five-year-old sweethearts. This is the first-year’s first time directing on campus.
Haddad admitted that she felt inexperienced at first, as the director position is not typically offered to first-years. However, becoming comfortable with the cast and crew has allowed her to feel confident in the production.
“This is a play that everyone can get something out of. It’s very relatable,” Haddad said.
Gooen, who is also a first-time director, said the festival has been a good opportunity to try something new.
Their play, Clarence Coo’s “Removing the Glove,” will be the last in the festival. The play deals with a young man, Will, who must admit his left-handedness to his family—a metaphor for the difficult conversations many young queer people face with their family.
Gooen said they wanted to share a story for those who recognize themselves as being different to a wider audience.
“[The play is] not only for people who are specifically left-handed or queer,” Gooen said.
But aside from the students involved in the creation of the festival, Rubin said the production would appeal to audience members who are also newer to theatre.
“It’s a really great opportunity for people, especially for someone who has difficulty sitting through a really long, straight play to see three different playwrights, directed by three completely different directors in one go”.