Theatre and dance department presents: Festival of One Person Performances

Ellie Lowe, Senior Writer

This past weekend, members of the University community along with their friends and family had the opportunity to become virtual audience members for the Festival of One Person Performances. The festival was presented by the Theatre & Dance Department’s Senior Seminar (357) course. According to the department, it was designed to be an exploration of the ways in which story can be conceived, revealed, crafted and expressed.

Each of the 12 5-10 minute original performances are written, performed and filmed by students on a subject of their choice — the subjects ranged from love to loss, from growing up to what it’s like to be an individual living in society. The seniors started thinking about their topics over the summer and refined them in class through freewriting and discussion.

“The idea came to me because my senior year has been a really reflective time about the past few years at Bucknell. I wanted a way to showcase the journey and emotional growth that I had gone through because I think a lot of people experience something very similar,” Libby Safir ’21 said when asked how she picked her topic.

Safir used her piece to give advice to the watcher. In the performance, her character recounts her past experiences and gives advice to a future daughter in the form of a letter. 

Em Sharp ’21 took a different approach by incorporating multiple small stories that culminated into one performance about how her character became a feminist. Opposed to some of the other performances, where there were set situations that the character was reacting to, she spoke directly to the watcher. Her performance also featured a unique twist where she used vases to explain her character’s stories; at different points of the performance, she focused on a specific vase and told a story about each of them. Although the stories simply seemed like stories about growing up, Sharp tied them all together to create a bigger picture.

“Creating this one-person piece was a culminating experience that allowed me to utilize the skills I have acquired, ranging from acting and directing to playwriting and film-making. This experience has been the highlight of my semester and my involvement in theatre has been an immense highlight of my Bucknell experience,” Sharp said.

Jeniah Martin ’22 expressed that she “used the performance to reflect on her past experiences.” Like Sharp, her character spoke to the watcher as if she were having a conversation with them. Her piece revolved around the story of a woman recounting all the different kisses she has had throughout her life, and what each one meant to her. Throughout the performance, audience members got to watch Martin’s character come to terms with her sexuality and, in the end, see who her dream kiss was.

“My favorite part about making the video was getting to treat a story that is inspired by personal experiences as a performance, as something that can be crafted and offered in an interesting and exciting way,” Martin said on why she chose her subject.

Similarly, Mackenzie Gross ’21 focused her performance around a story about a young woman making her case to get into heaven. While there were many directions to go with this concept, Gross took it as a way to reflect on a past regret. During her performance, her character lists all her greatest accomplishments until she is stopped and asked about the worst thing she’s ever done.

Gross shared a few questions that helped her explore her topic: “How is goodness measured? How does guilt play into the way in which we see ourselves? I wanted to explore these topics in a lens that, although in a factual way is specific to me, others can identify with and relate to.” 

Each performance showcased a unique and personal story that left the audience with something to think about. Audience members could stream the performance on their own time and in the comfort of their own homes. The next event by the Theatre & Dance Department is an Indoor Dance Film Festival, which will be streaming over the break on Dec. 5.

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