(and sometimes very, very grey)
By Aimee Kidrick
News & Features Editor
For three years now, the EOU theatre department has held a yearly 10-minute play festival. During each festival, about five or six ten-minute plays have been placed together and performed for an audience of students and La Grande residents for free.
This year’s play festival took place on Saturday, April 5, in the Schwarz Theatre in Loso Hall. However, it had more dismal themes than the last two. From murder to threatened suicide to unhealthy family relations, all six of the plays this year weren’t abundant in happy endings.
Of all the plays, half had an on-screen death (although one was hidden by the stage blacking out). Two of the other three featured thoughts of suicide, whether with a gun or sleeping pills, and the odd play out, a surreal dark comedy called “Fading Away,” still ended bleakly when the main character decided that life consisted only of darkness.
At the same time, this year’s play festival had the largest audience of the three. People walked away from the festival both impressed by the plays and shaken by their content. During one play in particular, called “A Bed for Soft Children,” audience members were seen holding back tears or holding each other anxiously at the sight of a young woman (played by Haley Hill) loudly and forcefully admitting to her father (played by Josh Byers) that she didn’t love him, but was scared of him.
The plays may have been dark, but they were all written for a reason. Each play dealt with problems that most of us have experienced at one point or another (with hopefully the exception of incest).
Many people look desperately for happy things in life, only to be overwhelmed by hopelessness. Everyone has lost a loved one, although, unlike the play “Hypothermia,” most of said deaths don’t involve cryogenics. Many people have done things that they regret, although perhaps not to the extent of the suicidal fellow in “Blood for Blood,” who killed another man. It’s only natural that people write about these things. Everyone, after all, is haunted by dark thoughts, as exemplified by the struggle between a girl and a poisonous friend in “Earth’s End.”
Perhaps the night was best summed up by Daniel Wagner, the theatre student who wrote “Earth’s End.” Quoting from “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”, he told the audience, “How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
However somber the plays were, they were well-written and well-acted. Of special note was “A Bed for Soft Children,” which handled a gruesome topic bluntly yet maturely, and “Fading Away,” which featured the protagonist (played by Bryn McLaughlin) encountering a darker personification of her personality (played by her twin sister, Alyx). “This or That” also consisted of impressive performances that, like “Fading Away,” were laced with very dark humor.
In short, the play festival this year had a lot of mature content, but was also a moving and emotional night. One thing is certain, however: there will likely be more comedies featured next year.