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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Frost Festival honors student plays

The 70th Annual Frost Play Festival returns to the stage tonight. The festival consists of a series of plays created entirely by Dartmouth students responsible for the writing, direction and performance of the works.

"One Hundred Days" by Kyle Ancowitz '98, "The Perfect Woman" by Jo Weingarten '98 and "You Are Here" by Stefan Lanfer '97 are this year's winners of the Frost Play-writing Competition, which accepts one-act play submissions each winter term.

The submitted scripts are further transformed by the interpretations of student directors and the personality and vitality which the student actors bring to the characters.

Audiences usually enjoy the Frost productions not only for their consistently high quality, but for the experimental vigor not found in familiar dramas.

This year, there are several factors to make the productions unique, other than the material itself. The plays will be performed in the Moore Theater rather than in the Bentley, where they have traditionally been seen in the past. This change will accommodate a much larger audience and will also allow for more technical flexibility.

However, according to writer Kyle Ancowitz '98, this change has also posed a challenge for the casts and crews, since it makes the performances less intimate and more demanding. Moving the Frosts to the Moore Theater indicates their importance to the Dartmouth community and elevates them to the level of a professionally run, mainstage performance.

"One Hundred Days" is a comedy about the struggle of love. Ancowitz usually has a sparse style of writing which lends itself to authentic dialogue and aggressive, ironic humor. Weingarten, his director, agrees: "Kyle is very precise and disciplined in his writing. Everything is exactly where he wants it, down to the very last 'eh.' So, digging around in his words has been a lot of fun for the cast and for me. He leaves a lot of room for interpretation and fun, so the actors and I did a lot of experimenting with delivery and action."

Weingarten's own play, "The Perfect Woman," examines relationships which have been affected by one member's anorexia. Although Weingarten believes that the play's discussion of anorexia is especially pertinent on a college campus, she says that the sickness does not dominate the production.

The strength of "The Perfect Woman" lies in the realistic and moving relationships depicted, as well as the disturbing ways that these relationships become a victim of the illness. "So, there are two sides to the play: the love and the sickness," Weingarten says. Because of its emotional nature, this play poses a special challenge to its actors, who must display a complex range of desires and responses to each other. "The Perfect Woman" is not only a play for people interested in women's issues, but is meaningful to anyone who has ever known the affection of friendship or love.

"You Are Here," written by Lanfer and directed by Robert Rees '97, was inspired by a setting. Lanfer began the play at an I-89 rest area and has been experimenting with the encounters of strangers in such places since.

In describing his play, Lanfer says, "'You Are Here' is my attempt at creating a snapshot of some interesting people, together in the middle of the night, in the middle of the nowhere. I hope they remind us of ourselves, at the same time they're like no one in the world we've ever met. And I hope they're interesting because there's more to them than we can understand."

Rees captured the spirit and excitement of the Frost Festival. "Although the Frost plays are made on a very limited budget and with the blood, sweat and tears of all those involved, they afford a vibrant and exciting look at the level of student talent at Dartmouth. I believe you'll be impressed."