I am always so impressed at how talented my friends are. As I mentioned in a previous post, the first edition of WMU’s new student organization of playwrights, actors, directors, and other theatre artists, Playground Ink, has been running its first set of plays for the past two weeks, with the final of four shows produced today. WMU Playwriting MFA-candidates Cara Beth Heath and Jeremy Llorence presented new one-act plays, which I’ve included synopses (no spoilers) for below.
Cara Beth’s one-act play, “On Age, Aimlessness, and USB Ports,” emphasizes our over-involvement with, and extreme reliance on, the technology we use—particularly, our smartphones (for those of us who use one). The play centers on the very well put-together Alison, who is trying to plan a (very lovely) lecture, the frazzled undergraduate student Sage, who is trying to use Google Maps to find a building on campus . . . and Sage’s smartphone, who apparently can do next to anything but load Google Maps today—and who also tremendously enjoys launching into song in response to, really, any key words (just think about the potential there for a minute, okay?). Through hilarious antics of cueing music, changing languages, and seeming to have a mind of her own (as our smartphones sometimes seem to), Sage’s Phone reminds us of the side-splitting results of our over-involvement with technology, while Alison challenges us to rely more heavily on our own abilities, our minds, and leave technology for the harder stuff. Though light and comical, this was a very smart, very well-written, even poetic-in-places, play.
Then, to following up with a more somber tone, Jeremy’s one-act play, “This Place is Death,” explores drug addiction and getting clean. Using this as a foundation, his characters then muddle through the difference between drug administration for the purpose of fulfilling addiction and the administration of “medication” (still drugs) to cure addiction. Through the always-beautiful split-scene technique, we watch as Tank moves between being administered a brand-new, not-yet-FDA-approved medication that is supposed to cure him of addiction without any of the nasty withdrawal side-effects and his existence on the streets with his similarly-addicted friend, Cliff. As the play continues, we are reminded of the importance of motivation and how having an agenda can later destroy our careers, our families, our goals, even our lives as a whole. A dark play, to say the least, but one that is extremely thought-provoking and feeling and leaves us wondering about the differences between drugs and medication, who is administering them and why, and what implications that may carry for us personally.
Both of these plays were spot-on, intelligent and thought-provoking; and it was such a beautiful day to see them done. I absolutely cannot wait until the next edition (coming at the end of September)!
Again, if you’re interested in getting involved, please read the program information I’ve included below this nifty image gallery; it includes a little info about the organization, who to contact to get involved, and where you can get more information!
And here is the info from the program, in case you can’t read the picture!
ON AGE, AIMLESSNESS, AND USB PORTS
Written by Cara Beth Heath
Directed by Alex Langmesser
Sage’s Phone—Emily Mckay
THIS PLACE IS DEATH
Written by Jeremy Llorence
Directed by Phil Vasquez
Special thanks to Steve Feffer
Playground Ink is a Registered Student Organization dedicated to collaboration between WMU writers and theatre artists. If you would like to get involved, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You may also check us out on Facebook.