Student plays contain complexity
The three plays in the 66th Annual Eleanor Frost Play Competition, which graced the stage in the Hopkins Center's Bentley Theater Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, were "Stay" by Chance Whitmire '94, "Mahogany Waves Golden Storms Twilight Fireflies and Violet Sands" by Zola Mashariki '94 and "The Ad" by Pavol Liska '95.
At the awards ceremony after Saturday night's performances, Whitmire walked away with the best play award for "Stay." "The Ad" picked up the most awards with Andrew Richards '96 winning best actor, Carrie Cantor '93 shared best actress and Kaili Rubin '93 won for best direction.
Marsha Blake '96 of "Mahogany Waves" was the co-winner of the best actress award.
A special award was given to Charles J. Trieloff II '94 for the set design of all three productions.
The Eleanor Louise Frost Fund was established in 1927 to provide an annual award for the best original one-act play written by a Dartmouth undergraduate. Drama Department Chair Mara Sabinson claimed this "is one of the best Frost competitions I have seen in many years."
"Professional playwrights may wait years to see their works produced," Whitmire said, "and here we are, three college students, given the opportunity of a lifetime."
"All of the plays were beautifully well-written and conceived," Whitmire said. "Everyone tries not to think about the competitive aspect of it all, until they call your name. Then you realize just how good it feels to be recognized for all your work and it's hard not to be excited."
"Stay" is the story of a young man, Arik played by Joey Hood '96, coping with life on the day of his college graduation. Arik is put in the position where he has to choose between the friends he has had for years and his intense new male friend, Kansas played by Darryl Knudsen '96. The play touches on the ideas of homophobia and the problems that intense male relationships face.
"Mahogany Waves Golden Storms Twilight FireFlies and Violet Sands" expresses the bonds between black women. The setting is a young black man's funeral where four woman come together to discuss how the man was a different person to each of them. The play ends with a powerful candlelight chant by the four women who claim what they wish to give their "child, husband, mother, sister" the four things in the title.
"The Ad" is a sadomasochistic play about an overly expressive woman, played by Cantor, answering the personal ad of a lonely man, played by Richards. The play explores male/female relationships by way of dark comedy.
"It's great to see the diverse styles that the writers bring to the stage," Chris Costalas '94, a drama student and member of the audience, said. "It really is an excellent opportunity for young playwrights to see their work develop from the page to the stage. It was much better than 'Cats', I'd see it again and again."
Producer Tim Raphael summed the experience best in the program notes, "With an abundance of humor, curiosity and courage these playwrights have taken stock of what concerns them. Their plays are vivid personal expressions that both reflect and refract the personal and cultural bath we're all soaking in.... If I had a hat I'd take it off to Eleanor Frost for providing the 66th opportunity for Dartmouth students to 'just play'."