Theater Arts Presents ‘Student Written One Acts’

One-act plays are the high-wire performances of theater. Every move matters, there's no safety net, and nothing escapes attention.

The high wire comes to Cal Poly Pomona with “Student Written One Acts” in the Studio Theatre at 8 p.m. on April 24, 25, 29, 30, and May 1 and 2.

“You can't hide behind anything,” says Professor Bernardo Solano, whose playwriting students created the works. “The writing has to hold its own. The cast is small. The set designers have to be clever — to do more with less — and the costume, lighting and sound have to work well in an intimate setting.”

The event, run entirely by students, comprises 10 performances divided over consecutive nights, so a theatergoer attending back-to-back shows would have two distinct experiences.

“Don't Go Down,” written and directed by Evan Wallace, is one of the dramas.

“Evan was taken by the tragic deaths of actor Heath Ledger and singer Elliott Smith, so he wanted to explore some of the pressures of fame and the role of alcohol and drugs,” Solano says. “The play isn't biographical, but their deaths served as the inspiration.”

“Arlequina,” written by Marissa Pitts and directed by Andzej Malins, is the polar opposite: a comedy adapted from the Commedia dell'Arte style of 18th-century Italy. “Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and other physical comedians are the heirs,” Solano says. “All slapstick is rooted in Commedia dell'Arte.”

Pitts' one-act play focuses on a rich, bumbling Southern Californian's attempts to impress a U.S. senator, but the real brains on stage belong to the Latina maid, “the smart servant,” Solano says.

The other plays showing with “Don't Go Down” are “Relative Strangers,” written  by Rick Gomez and directed by Mallory Fehrensen; “Fly,” written by Gabriel Bronson and directed by Charles Kealey; “Festivus,” written and directed by Tracy Miller; and “Rock-A-Bye,” written and directed by Katie Holman. Performance dates are April 29 and May 1.

Plays showing with “Arlequina” are “Kiss, Load, and Bang,” written and directed by Alfonso Ramirez; “Good Night My Someone … Goodnight My Love,” written by Stephanie Soukup and directed by Andzej Malins; “Communication Breakdown,” written by Nicole Herman and directed by Charles Kealey; and “Eternal Struggle,” written and directed by Jeremy Barraza. Performance dates are April 30 and May 2.

Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students, seniors, faculty and staff. For more information, call (909) 869-3184.