Pictured: Lincoln Crockett conducting the world premiere of ‘The Butler is Dead’ at the One Act Festival at Belmont High School.
The sad tales of unclaimed luggage, a murder mystery in which the butler didn’t make it, and an oral-savvy pirate in search of that special someone.
These are just a few of the productions featured this week with the return of the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company student-run one-act play festival taking place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday May 12-14 at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theater at Belmont High School.
Tickets can be purchased online here. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.
The annual production is back on stage after a two-year Covid hiatus with a mix of comedy, drama and everything in between.
“One Act is a form of theater that tries to condense a message that could be conveyed in a two-hour play or musical into 10 minutes,” said Lincoln Crockett, who is directing the world premiere of “The Butler is Dead”, by Eli Barnes, a graduate of Belmont High (2019) who wrote the work to play in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.
Watch the accompanying video as Crockett prepares his cast for production.
For two BHS PAC veterans who have taken on the role of Senior Director, the return to One Acts now brings new perspectives to the theatrical process.
Leeza Pesok co-directs with Giulia VecchiI “Emotional Baggage”, an act about suitcases stuck at an airport’s unclaimed baggage counter and all the trauma and issues they go through complaining about their lives.
“Yeah, it’s a comedy,” Pesok said.
Pesok’s senior colleague Katie Shea directs “Jolly Jack Junior: The Buccaneer’s Bairn” starring Talia Fiore, the story of a pirate named Willie who is on the hunt for someone special.
Q: What’s it like to be involved in an act’s comeback after two years away?
Weight: “My freshman year in 2019, I was in a One Act as an actor. Three years pass, and out of the blue, I’m directing one. Seeing the production from the inside gave me a perspective that really unique about building a show from the bottom up as a director.
Shea: I was also in an act my freshman year and being able to direct them now has been such a rewarding experience to see a side of theater production that I’m not normally into.
Q: Why did you select the plays you direct?
Weight: “I just spent a few weeks reading different plays. And then this one kind of jumped off the page. I could really visualize it. And I still can’t forget the moment in the auditions where I heard people read the lines for the first time after reading it for so long on my own. And that’s when I knew I had made the right choice. Seeing it in rehearsals and working on it, I’m so excited for the audience to see it.
Shea: “When [Fiore and I] found Jolly Junior, we read the script to each other in those ridiculous British accents and we couldn’t stop laughing. We knew this piece would be so much fun to produce.
Q: Unlike a standard play or musical, an act is known to have a fairly sparse staging. How do you compensate for these limitations?
Weight: “We don’t really have talking suitcases on stage. The script provides a little brief description of each character – a well-worn Southern suitcase or a drug dealer’s duffel bag – and then we kind of take that and incorporate some character choices and that gives the actors a chance to bring this to life. the scene. ”
Shea: “We were lucky enough to have a lot of SpongeBob pirate costumes” [BHS PACs spring musical produced last month] so it worked pretty well for us. And although we have created a minimalist pirate ship, you will definitely feel like it is.
Q: What do you want the audience to take away from your unique act?
Weight: “When you walk through an airport, you never really think about the experiences their luggage has and what it must feel like to be transported throughout your life. It’s cool to see all the cast connecting with different aspects of each bag’s life; how someone was supposed to go to a realtors convention in Florida but was left behind and she is so upset about it. It’s a really fun perspective to have when you’re just a person and not a suitcase.
Shea: “We’re just looking for people to have a good time and sit down and laugh a little. The plot of our show is ridiculous: there are so many made-up words in the dialogue that are supposed to be “pirate” language. The actors did an incredible job of bringing it to life on stage. So we hope people have fun.
SURPRISE By Mark Harvey Levine
Directed by Grace Sattler
Peter’s psychic abilities drive his date, Whitney, slowly insane.
JOLLY JACK JUNIOR: THE BUCCANEER’S BAIRN By Jeff Goode
Directed by Katie Shea and Talia Fiore
Seeking revenge, pirate Willy boards a pirate ship and demands an audience with the captain…but instead discovers a secret about his past.
ALIEN MONSTER BOWLING LEAGUE By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Emily Kaiser
The aliens’ arrival threatens Hubbard’s long reign as bowling league champion.
HE IS REALLY A GREAT BOY By Rory Leahy
Directed by Chris Jorgenson
Matt wants his friend Dan to hang out more and meet someone special, so he sets up a double date with Heather and Annie, but Dan’s secret inner life could be a deciding factor.
1-900-DESPERATE By Christopher Durang
Directed by Claire Svetkey
Gretchen, alone on a Saturday night, impulsively calls 1-900-DESPERATE, a hotline for desperate singles. But you never know who you’ll meet on an open phone line.
EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE By Nina Shengold
Directed by Leeza Pesok and Giulia Vecchi
It’s hard to be a suitcase at the unclaimed baggage counter.
THE FIRST NIGHT OF HANUKAH By Sheri Wilner
Directed by Naomi Stephenson
David Schwartz is the only Jew stranded at the airport in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, on the first night of Chanukah – until he meets another traveler with a connection to the (historically real) Jewish settlers in the turn of the century in North Dakota.
THE BUTLER IS DEAD By Eli Barnes (world premiere)
Directed by Lincoln Crockett
Several important guests show up for a business meeting at a posh mansion, only to find that murder occurs. *gasp* The butler had to do it…. But…. The butler is dead!