Original student plays to hit big stage at One-Act Fringe

Michael Milano rehearses for the play "La Cajita," written by Ben Calabrese, on the McKenna Theatre for the first official run through of the Original One-Acts: Fringe on the Main Stage. The playwrights hope to provide grand productions despite their small teams. Photo by Sam Battles / Xpress

This fall, the biannual One-Act Fringe series expands as students are challenged in adapting their performances to a larger format at McKenna Theatre, the main stage in the Creative Arts Building.

Every semester for the past 15 years, SF State students of all majors and class standings have been given the chance to write and develop their own one-act plays to be performed on stage. Students submit their pieces to a committee of their peers that selects only a handful to be produced and performed within the calendar year. Previous Fringes were performed in the Little Theatre in the Creative Arts Building and utilizing the much larger space fort this semester’s three plays is a difficult task.

Original One-Acts: Fringe on the Main Stage

“La Cajita”
“The M. Documents”
“Joy”

When: Oct. 11 to Oct. 21

Where: McKenna Theatre, in the Creative Arts Building

Cost: $8 for students, faculty, staff and seniors
$12 general admission

Buy tickets here

“It’s a huge hurdle; design-wise, the show is a little more of a challenge,” Rachel Golden, stage manager, said. “(The venue) is longer, deeper and more challenging. We’re very excited, though.”

This year’s Fringe was moved to McKenna due to construction in the Little Theatre, and although the larger venue is daunting, the opportunities for a more elaborate production have been taken advantage of. One of the pieces, “The M. Documents” written by Terry Boero and directed by Nara Dahlbacka, features two giant movable ramps on which the actors perform. The ramps will shift and split apart at a determined time to simulate an earthquake.

Boero’s “The M. Documents” examines couples in positions of power and is inspired by Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Although based on Elizabethan material, the piece has something to say about the Lady and Lord Macbeths of the present.

“I hope when the audience goes home, they talk about it,” Boero, a playwright graduate student, said. “I just want them to talk about how the events of the play relate to today.”

Boero has been writing plays for more than 15 years, and she has taught drama for more than 20. This stands in stark contrast with student playwright Jameliah Bates, whose play “Joy” is her first. However, the diversity of the students is welcomed.

“We’re each very different and we complement each other,” Boero said.

Bates was encouraged to submit her play by her classmates in professor Roy Conboy’s play development workshop class. After being out of school for 10 years and returning to finish her bachelor’s degree in theatre arts, writing fiction was not exactly what Bates had in mind, but Conboy’s class had a huge impact on her.

“I actually wasn’t even interested in writing,” Bates said. “I’m just so happy that I ran into it, and I loved it.”

Bate’s piece is about a woman named Joy, and her struggles to live a decent and good life with her family while confronting her own troubling past.

“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” Bates said. “It touches on themes of truth, honesty and family, and it has many colorful characters.”

Besides the importance of student expression, the One-Act Fringe is about collaboration as well. Boero says that it’s more than an individual accomplishment to see a written play come to life on stage.

“That’s why I do theater,” Boero said. “It’s about all of us working together. Other people are putting their vision inside these stories too, we’re all telling one story, a universal story, instead of just my story.”

Golden, who has had a hand in managing several One-Acts during her time at SF State, agreed that the show requires the efforts of many students.

“It’s student directed, student written, student designed,” Golden said. “These plays are like the writers’ children, they’ve been developing these plays for a year and we have to build them from the ground up and I hope the audience sees how much work they put into this.”

Original One-Acts: Fringe on the Main Stage will run from Oct. 11 to 21, and will feature the three works: “La Cajita,” written by Ben Calabrese, “The M. Documents” and “Joy.” Tickets can be purchased through the department of theatre arts web page. Prices are $12 for general admission and $8 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.

Latest comments
  • Greetings to all of the writers, directors, cast members and staff of your One Act-Fringe at San Francisco State University!!!

    All of the stories seem to unite in diligent diversity and excitement! I’m very proud that Jameliah Bates decided to enter her first written play, “Joy!” I look forward to reading, hearing, seeing more of her upcoming masterpieces, indeed. She has been involved in various forms of writings since age 12, often placing first and second places in a wide range of original poetry and essay writing contests.

    Congrats to Jameliah Bates and everyone involved. I pray you have a magnificent opening, mid-way showings and closing. By all means, break a leg out there everyone, lol. Keep up the excellent work!!!

    Astonishingly,

    Victoria Shabazz

  • This show, La Cajita, was so very enjoyable. We flew from LA to San Francisco and recommend it to all. Such talent!