Stagefemmes kicked off its 2018 Site-Specific One Acts Festival on Oct. 26 with a performance on the porch of the Crozier Center for Women. Audience members huddled together beneath the porch’s awning, seeking shelter from stormy weather along with entertainment. The untraditional Crozier setting helped bring Trade & Traffic, written by Kyla Spencer ’18 and directed by Autumn Gomez-Tagle ’21, to life. The actors moved around naturally and there was no large performative staging. A passerby would likely assume the scene was simply a group of friends bickering as they waited, if not for the audience crowded on the edge of the porch. When it ended, the actors simply walked off into the rain with their umbrellas. They left the audience in silence to imagine for a moment what real conversations had unfolded where they stood.
The annual festival features scenes, written specifically for Stagefemmes by Kenyon alumni, that the group presented on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. Each one act is set in a different location around campus, and audience members walk between performances, adding to the Kenyon specific charm of the Festival.
After Trade & Traffic, the actors moved to the Mather breezeway, where they put on a play called The Forest Gargoyle of Gambier, written by Natalie Kane ’18 and directed by Eleanor Evans-Wickberg ’21. The play featureds one character seeking a ludicrous creature and another waiting around for a date. The performance seemed to examine the act of holding out hope for something that will not come. As people came and went through the breezeway during the play, the two actors stayed in character, keeping the scene vivid. In fact, the unscheduled interruptions made the scene seem all the more real. When asked after the performances, Evans-Wickberg, who is a contributor to the Collegian, said that the best part of directing was “definitely the people,” praising her two dedicated actresses.
Another play, Young Creatures, written by Spencer Huffman ’17 and directed by Olivia Lindsay ’19, took place in a cozy North Campus Apartment beneath garlands of warm string lights. As the scene began, it was difficult to figure out what was going on. But soon it became clear that the two actors were playing a categories game: One would come up with a description, and then the other would have to give seven things that fit that description. As the actors completed each round, they moved closer to each other. It was powerful to watch them go back and forth, one character falling quiet as the other starts naming while the audience watches them watching the other. Both actors seemed totally wrapped up by what the other was doing. They were vulnerable and alone with each other. As it went on, the relationship between the two characters revealed itself. They made a lot of jokes and got less reserved as they went on, as flirting leaked into their responses. At the end one category, based around short fairytales, they got within arm’s reach and embraced.
“I think the actors, and especially the writers, did a great job folding an alternative reality into what we experience daily,” said Jonathan Hernandez ’21, an audience member.
Evans-Wickberg also stressed, in reference to the originality of the plays, that it was great “to get to do something that has never been done before.” She especially enjoyed working with plays that included references to Kenyon. Like real memories tied to a place, the plays lingered around the sites they were set. The ideas and feelings of alumni found their homes fresh in the minds of a different student body.