The Fringe Festival gave SF State playwrights and actors an opportunity to showcase their skills and creative expression in a two-week production of plays.
SF State school of theatre and dance and the creative writing department sponsored the Fringe Festival, an annual theater production that has existed for over 20 years. The March 5 to March 15 event featured a series of plays written and performed by SF State students. The festival featured several less than 30-minute, one-act plays and took place in Creative Arts room 104. The plays encompassed topics like kinship and romantic relationships, weddings and suicide. According to the event website, Fringe Festival extends an opportunity for student playwrights of diverse and multicultural backgrounds to delve into these different narratives.
During the first week of the event, four plays premiered, including “Unwedding,” a play written by SF State student Molly Olis Krost. The narrative of “Unwedding” surrounded a special ceremony to finalize a breakup. The play was directed by playwright professor, Roy Conboy, who directed several other plays in Fringe Festival.
Krost’s play showcased a dynamic group of characters. The 10-person cast featured characters who had few to no lines and were left to convey their personalities through facial expressions and body language, giving actors freedom to give their characters distinguishing personas.
For example, Krost cast Raziel Ruiz, an SF State theater student, as the best man in her play. Ruiz interpreted a melodramatic character, but added his own twist and made his character extremely extroverted at times, jumping and dancing through the stage. Ruiz sees adding his own spin on characters as part of the fun of theater.
“It’s important to know where the playwright is going [with the play] and it’s the actor’s job to know what the playwright wants,” Ruiz said. “Then I [get to] put my own twist to it.”
SF State senior and theater student Caroline Sanchez agrees that creating her own interpretation to the characters she plays brings the fun to acting.
“Playwrights have ideas in mind but the cool part about it is that you can change it,” Sanchez said. “You get to make your character completely your own.”
The festival drew in playwrights and actors’ creativity through encouraging them to incorporate harsh emotions and balance it with humor within their performances. During the second week of production, SF State students Nolan Moore and Sandy Nguyen’s plays received much recognition because of their comedic value.
Moore’s “Sister Sister” illustrated the story of two sisters and their growing wedding rivalry stemming from their mother. The play was broken down into three separate monologues portraying the different points of views of the two sisters and their mother.
Paul Martinez, attendant of Fringe Festival, described this play as his favorite of the night.
“Each monologue was funny in it’s own way and then it came all together in the end which made it even funnier,” Martinez said.
Later in the evening, the room echoed with laughter at the conclusion of Nguyen’s “Hanh’s Dream,” a very touching and dramatic, yet comedic, monologue which touched on the cultural expectations a Vietnamese mother places on her child.
Student participants of the festival appreciated the creative edge the festival allowed students. Sanchez appreciated the creative process compared to the big productions she has been a part of.
“Everything is chill. All you have to do is cleanse your mind and start working,” Sanchez said.
According to a statement by Conboy in the Fringe Festival program, the annual tradition of Fringe Festival continues to be a place for students to see their work come to life on stage, some for the first time.