February 20, 2003
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YSHS Drama Club’s annual one-act plays—
Students to offer night of coruscation

For the past 11 years, Yellow Springs High School thespians have annually created an original production of one-act plays to truly call their own.

Some years the students focus on improvisation, other years the plays are connected by a central theme. But every year the audience is sure to see something new and not a little bit telling about this group of students expressing themselves through theater.

It’s no coincidence that Owen Wolfe, whose band Digital Chronic Orchestra plays punk and classic rock, wrote a story with Martin Borchers about a has-been ’80s rock band making a comeback on a late-night talk show. Wolfe and Borchers also star in their play, “Rock On,” as rockers with names as curious as Vin Wolfedunevant.

“It sounded cool for an ’80s rock star,” Wolfe said.

Creative license is an attribute that pervades all the one-acts and allows the students to use their individual talents to create their own vision. Wolfe and Borchers sing and rap songs that Wolfe wrote for the performance.

“We rap about how gangsta we are and how we got the bling-bling and all that,” Wolfe said, referring to being tough and heavily laden with gold jewelry.

Other plays incorporate the musical talents of their creators, such as senior Aurianna Tuttle’s collage of original music, step sequence and slam poetry. Tuttle had the idea of weaving together her original compositions and choreographed stomp dance with poetry written and read by the 10 cast members in her play, “Spoken Words.” She said that she wanted her piece to be less about theater and more about issues prevalent to today’s youth.

“At first I tried to write a whole show, then I decided I wanted just realness,” Tuttle said. “I don’t want actors. Just act the way you are, how you really feel.”

Tuttle said that she did not want to limit her writers, who slam about acceptance, biracial heritage, war and the decisions teens face. Instead, she wanted to give each a voice in the name of unity, the work’s most important message.

Tuttle is directing her own piece because she has never directed anything she has written in the past. But YSHS theater director Marcia Nowik encouraged the other writers, who had already directed their own works, to allow other students to step in for them.

Charlie Cromer, usually an actor, chose to direct James Hyde’s play, “Life’s Lessons.” Cromer elected the one-acts for his directorial debut because, he said, “it’s more laid back, and it’s fun to see what your friends will come up with.”

The students come up with some pretty funny stuff that tends to draw people who don’t usually get up on stage, he said. For instance, Wolfe had never been involved in theater before last year’s one-acts, when he made a cameo appearance in another play Borchers had written.

“I had been scared of the theater in part because it’s a close-knit thing,” Wolfe said. “People say other schools have football jocks and Yellow Springs has theater.”

But because this is Wolfe’s last year at YSHS and his friends are running the show, he said he was convinced to join in the production.

“There are a good number of students who only do the one-acts,” Nowik said. “Some aren’t even theater people, they just want to have fun.”

They’re learning as well, and not only theater. They must navigate within the limitations set before them, such as the stage rule of using no more than five blocks and two benches on any set. They are also responsible for finding their own rehearsal space, scheduling the rehearsals and working around cast members’ sports, jobs and other activities.

If they ask for help or extra input, Nowik said that she gives them suggestions with scripting and directing. She also chooses the order of the acts. But otherwise, the entire production is in student hands.

“Some years the writing is pretty raw emotionally,” Nowik said. “But I let them deal with it. If they don’t like it, they adjust themselves.”

This weekend’s show, “Backyard Symphony: A Cornucopia of Coruscation,” plays in the Antioch College experimental theater and could be emitting, according to Webster’s definition for coruscation, “a sudden brilliant display, as of wit.” The six plays serve as a fundraiser for the theater department.

James Hyde wrote “Life’s Lessons,” directed by Charlie Cromer; Glenn Reed wrote “Death Comes A-Knockin,” directed by Jesse Northridge; Martin Borchers and Matthew Zaremsky wrote “Martin and Matt Make a One Act,” directed by Kevin Malarkey; Borchers and Wolfe wrote “Rock On,” directed by Zaremsky; Northridge wrote “Escape,” directed by Hyde; and Tuttle is directing her own piece, “Spoken Words.”

The show runs Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22, 8 and 10 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 23, 2 p.m., at the Antioch experimental theater.

The production was so popular last year and the experimental theater so small, that many people were turned away at the door, Nowik said. But the theater’s intimate space fits the mood for the one-acts, she said, and this year the crew is putting on two shows each night to enable more people to see it.

—Lauren Heaton