Winter Shorts fly open
By Kelsey Gobroski
Sun Star Contributor
Winter Shorts opened last Friday at the Salisbury Theater. Exploring the production process, students performed plays, improvisations, and poetry on a cozy and versatile set. Winter Shorts is a student-driven production that occurs every semester, and stretches its roots back to 1997.
“It’s all student-directed, student-acted, student-designed,” said Katie Sousa, the managing director of the Student Drama Association. Sousa coordinated meetings and deadlines in preparation for the event.
Sousa said students learned aspects of the theater that included publicity and the purchase of production rights. The process began when directors submitted a proposal for a play, usually a semester beforehand, she said. If the play was voted in by the SDA, and was faculty-approved, directors started meeting with designers. The SDA held auditions in early February, and actors had about five weeks to rehearse. “It gives us a chance to act as a theater company in an educational setting.” Sousa said.
Winter Shorts included not only one-act plays, but also Slam poetry, and improv troupes. “It’s really exciting to have such a broad range of people involved.” Sousa said.
Hayley Van De Bogart attended her first Winter Shorts on Saturday night. She said her favorite aspect was the range of genres and situations portrayed on the stage. “They [the actors] were very versatile,” she said. She said she “didn’t see them break character once.”
The evening began with the Ground Squirrel Improv Troupe, which students formed in 2004. Ground Squirrel took a range of prompts from the audience. Suggestions included olympic diving CD compilations, therapist and client interactions, socially awkward traits, and unique ways to die.
After the improv, stagehands rearranged the set for the first play of the evening, “Back to Normal.” The play, written by MFA student Tom Moran, first appeared at Famous for Fifteen in 2008. Along with her management duties, Sousa also directed Moran’s play. “Back to Normal” was Sousa’s first experience directing.
Sousa said they built a basic multi-leveled set to accommodate the needs of all the plays, and directors could choose which parts to use for their production. Adam Gillette used most of the set when he directed James Nicholson’s play, “Love and Peace, Mary Jo.” In the play, a man watched from afar as his friend went through various stages of leukemia.
Between the plays, local poets also had their work showcased by actors, directors, and set designers. “Poetica Theatre,” directed by Brian Lyke and Heather Warren, featured Slam and traditional poetry. The readings were embellished with set design, costume design and props. Multimedia merged with poetry, as videos of Fairbanks smokestacks billowed smoke behind an actor.
Sambit Misra, a petroleum engineer sophomore, sold tickets last semester. This semester, he acted in “Love and Peace, Mary Jo.” He said Winter Shorts taught him how to work with different types of people, and how to quickly change between convincing emotional states. “I learned how to act better,” he said.
Winter Shorts will have three more performances, next Friday and Saturday evenings with a Sunday matinee.