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10 out of 10: Festival of X returns to Brockport

by Alyssa Daley - Executive Editor
Tue, Mar 7th 2017 05:35 pm
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Cue the music and the curtain as the Festival of X wraps up its final show weekend Friday, March 3 through Saturday, March 5. The Festival of X is a biennial production of 10 10-minute plays written by playwrights from all over the world. It is biennial because it takes a year for the 500 submissions to be processed and ranked so the top 10 can be casted, rehearsed, designed and finally shown to the public. In the call for 2014-15 submissions the team of Brockport faculty, alumni and local connections received over 600 submissions and after that experience put a cap on how many they would take: 500.

The Festival of X has been recognized for its global reach and the unique experience of these 10-minute plays. Rather than just casting actors to read through each play's respective scripts directors, actors, costume designers, technical directors and more, come together to fully produce these top 10 plays as a way for up-and-coming playwrights' is a way for their voices to be heard.

 What is special about the festival is the engagement the audience has. Each of the 10-minute plays evoked a response from the audience whether it be laughter or tears. Within each program was a ballot with the list of plays for the audience to vote on. The People's Choice will be announced on the theatre department's webpage. Below is a synopsis of the top ten plays featured in this year's Festival of X.


"Ghost Hypothesis"

Written by Maximillian Gill and directed by Brockport alumnus Shannon Toot with Tony Heard, Jr. and Peyton Barres as Miller and Harris, respectively.

A team of astronauts was sent to do a research mission on Mars. All was going as planned until a year into the mission the team members were found on Earth in four different locations after NASA lost contact with them during a sandstorm. The play began with the member from the United States being interrogated by a fellow NASA astronaut. The interrogator shared the Ghost Hypothesis theory that says the four members of the Mars mission team died on Mars and came back to Earth as ghosts. After the Mars mission, an astronaut confirmed that he and his team did hear something on Mars and it sent them back to Earth with the message to "stay home." The interrogator said she believes in the ghost hypothesis in an effort to deny that other beings do not want humans visiting their planets.


"The Saddest Play About Rainbows"

Written by Callan Stout and directed by Brockport professor Ruth Childs with Sara Anzalone and Chantal Yawson playing Quince and Clementine, respectively.

Two sisters were sitting on the lawn of their parents' house talking about the brother they would have had if the baby their parents had before them didn't pass away. They talked about how he would look, what he would like, what job he would have and how he would love them. The title comes from the portion of the dialogue where Clementine, the older sister, told Quince that she had to be the replacement child since their parents always planned for two. With that came the term "rainbow babies." Clementine asked Quince if she knew why they were called that and Quince replied by explaining that children born after a child passes away are called "rainbow babies" because they bring the light back into their parents' lives.


"The Benefit of the Doubt"

Written by Annie Wood and directed by Brockport senior Nicky Sudyn with Vanessa Ryland-Buntley and Bridgette Meskell portraying Tasha and Nikki, respectively.

The play began with a same-sex, bi-racial couple going through Nikki's mother's things, who has just passed away. During this process Tasha and Nikki talked about the struggles the couple had to go through because of Nikki's mom's homophobia and racism. As they nearly finish going through everything Nikki finds a binder filled with printed out Facebook photos of Nikki and Tasha together with captions expressing the mom's love for both of them and their relationship. The premise of the play was that people can change if they want to. Nikki hadn't seen her mom in over six years before she died but in the end, both Nikki and Tasha found closure because they saw that Nikki's mom had actually grown to accept them and even be proud of them.


"Cocktail Party"

Written by Thomas Misuraca and directed by Brockport senior Tricia Plinzke with Spencer Linsner and Nick Marcello fulfilling the roles of Ben and Michael ,respectively.

The play took place in Ben's home and opened with him bartending for a room full of stuffed animals and dolls. After a minute Michael, a man Ben met at a networking mixer, entered believing that he will be talking to some important contacts Ben has that will help his business expand. He was in disbelief when he saw a mock bar full of inanimate plaything, thinking that the entire skit was a joke. Ben continued to act as though speaking with the toys was normal. He then explained that he was bullied as a child and feels more comfortable around the toys he knows won't judge and that he hadn't met a person besides Michael that he actually wanted to be friends with. What started out as a possible storyline of someone believed to be crazy became a plotline by which a friend helps another friend by accepting one another for who they are.


"Places"

Written by Ed Friedman and directed by Brockport graduate student Cody Kaminska with Robert Cameron, Kevin Plinzke, Sasha Flint, Emmy Frank and Catherine Gilman casted as Mort, Robert, Maggie, Laura and Jean, respectively.

It is a play about rehearsing a play so when the scene began the people in the audience thought what they were watching was the actual play. Robert was trying to have secret romantic relationships with his two female co-stars until they find out. After Robert left the room, the audience realized that the women had actually found out about what he was trying to do beforehand and had staged their reactions. After this an actress placed in the audience stops what is going on onstage and the audience finds out that she is the director and what they had been watching was a play about a play. This reveals that in "real-life" Robert is gay and therefore does not have feelings for either women. This was one of the largest plot twists to happen in all the 10-minute plays.


"Nevada Johnson and the Meaning of Life"

Written by Evan Baughfman and directed by Brockport professor Michael Krickmire with Nick Winger and Katelyn Aldrich-Banks playing Nevada Johnson and Mrs. Sachs, respectively.

This play was a rendition of "Indiana Jones" hence the main character's name being Nevada Johnson. This play was about an explorer who spent his life looking for the meaning of life hidden behind the dangerous door or "la puerta peligrosa."  It opened with him finding the door in a comedic manner. When Nevada asked if anyone is there the door opened and he was met by an old librarian, Mrs. Sachs. Mrs. Sachs explained that she is not a human but happiness that takes the shape of whatever has made the person looking at her happiest in their lives. She reminded Nevada that she was his middle school librarian and pulled out the book she recommended for him so long ago which helped him remember the feeling he got after reading a good book. 


"Monument"

Written by Mark Scharf and directed by the Department of Theatre and Music Studies Chair P. Gibson Ralph with Jake Dion and Ryan DiPaolo portraying Scott and Ryan, respectively.

The play opened to Scott, the handyman, talking with the owner of the house, Ryan, whose roof he has been working on. The conversation carried back and forth with joking and some serious tones that led to the topic of lasting forever. Scott also mentioned that the clouds made it look like it was going to rain. Then Ryan got a phone call from his girlfriend and said he can't believe Scott is really gone and that it seems as though he is still alive after all this time. The audience realized Scott was actually dead because he climbed onto the roof to inspect his work even when he knew it was about to rain. He fell and died either on impact or from serious injury caused by the fall. After this was unveiled, Ryan asked Scott why he had to get back on the roof and tried to reach for closure since it is clear he has not come to terms with the passing of his friend. In the end promises Scott that he will help honor and remember him by creating more than just a brochure for his business. 


"Player of the Week"

Written by Pete Mergel and directed by Brockport senior Dalton Pitts with Jordan Caster, Chris Standhart and Matt Zeh playing Jesse "Jumpshot" Jordan, Stan Rosenburg and Jonathan, respectively.

This was the most serious and tear-jerking play out of the ten. It opened on Jesse, a talented basketball player, sitting on a bench at the foot of his hotel bed, looking at a tattoo on his right forearm. Stan, Jesse's agent, came in with the good news that Jesse had just been propositioned a year-long contract to play basketball and that as a celebration, Stan ordered one of everything on the room service menu for Jesse. After Stan left, a waiter named Jonathan entered with all the food. He saw Jesse was alone and invited himself to eat alongside Jesse. When the meal was through, Jonathan asked Jesse to sign a picture of himself. All seems normal until Jesse asked who he should make the note out to and Jonathan answered "Sam". A violent confrontation then unfolds with Jonathan holding Jesse at gunpoint. It was revealed that Jonathan was the father of a girl named Sam who Jesse had killed after hitting her as he was driving under the influence. The tattoo Jesse looked at in the beginning is Sam's name surrounded by angels; he begins and ends his day begging Sam for forgiveness. He asked Jonathan for forgiveness but instead Jonathan tried to shoot him in the head. Seconds after Jesse realized it was a blank and he is to be left asking forgiveness for the rest of his life, perhaps a result crueler than death.


"Hanna and Hal"

Written by Paul Tinsley and directed by Richard St. George with Adam Urbanic and Bianca Blisset playing Hal and Hanna, respectively.

Hanna is a homeless woman and Hal is an ex-professor who met at a park bench. Hanna was lying down to get some sleep when Hal cames along to ask if he could share the bench with her as all the others are full. After that Hanna revealed that she had been on the street for so many years she wasn't even positive  Hanna is her real name. Hal revealed that he is an ex-professor of English at the local university who was fired because he kept forgetting things. He then asked Hanna if she would like to go have lunch with him. As they began walking away, leaving all their belongings on the park bench, Hal asked which way they should go, to which Hanna replied, "let's go the opposite way normal people go." At this the doors open to a flood of light and smoke creating an ethereal entrance which the two walk through.


"Squirrels in a Knothole"

Written by Peter Stavros and directed by Susan Hopkins with Kevin Plinzke, Jared Lee Morgan and Nick Winger as Stan, Jerry and Timbo, respectively.

This last play was a way to leave people thinking about society on a different level, with a little bit of laughter. The play took place in a tree with all three actors dressed like squirrels. The entire play seemed to be a play on the phrase "cogs in a machine"; throughout its entirety the squirrels discussed the life of the workers who were employed at the office across from the tree. They talked about the layoffs that were coming up and how all people do work to get paid for doing a job they do not love. When a hawk came the two older squirrels, Stan and Jerry, made Timbo go out to see if the coast was clear with the phrase "the last one in is the first one out" once again hinting at the corporate employment chain. Timbo ends up being taken by the hawk and the others reaction to this is simply to carry on with their daily routine just like a corporation continues to function after having layoffs.


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