Festival 2017: "Never Doubt I Love"

By Meghan Jones

On April 25 through 27, the Marist College Club of Theatre Arts (MCCTA) put on “Never Doubt I Love,” the 2017 edition of the annual Festival of student-written plays.  There was a major turnout for this year’s Festival, which sold out the Black Box Theatre in Fontaine on its opening night.

Festival is completely different every year.  Students submit original plays, required to be no more than 15 minutes in length and contain no more than five characters.  Five plays are selected and each is directed by a Marist student.  After the performances, one of the playwrights is chosen to receive the John P. Anderson Memorial Award, a playwriting scholarship awarded in memory of John P. Anderson, a 1986 Marist graduate who passed away shortly after his graduation.

I have been to three of the four Festivals during my time at Marist, and I was very impressed by the show this year.  Each 15-minute play had a totally different feel to it and all were very well-acted.

The show opened with “She’s an Actress,” written by Bernadette Hogan and directed by Matt McNamara.  Megan Buckley gave a standout performance as Sheila, an unmarried middle-aged woman who narrated various moments of her life spent living in the shadow of her sister.  The second show was “Beyond Our Control,” written by Ema Fernandez and directed by Liana Frasca.  Two girls dressed in white (Emma Pasqualino and Tristan Rowley) watched an estranged college couple (Dan Ahl and Katie Morreale) reconnect, and it was finally revealed that the girls were the couple’s friends who had been killed in a drunk driving accident.  Despite the somber subject matter, the play ended on a hopeful note as the couple decided to give their relationship a try and their friends looked on with approval.

“Subverted Reconnections” by Julia Franco got lots of laughs from the audience with its madcap depiction of a series of outlandish coincidences.  Fred Darcy in particular was hilarious as Carter, who, with a completely straight face, rattled off contemplations about life and the universe to his baffled fellow characters.  “Subverted Reconnections” was directed by Quincy Brown.

Valerie Mark’s “Auto Fail,” directed by Julia Franco, focused on a college student, Camryn (Kelsey Beresheim), whose boyfriend’s autocorrect-riddled texts made her think he was going to break up with her.  Mostly funny and lighthearted, the show touched upon a more serious matter when it was revealed that Camryn’s fears about her relationship sprung from her parents’ failed marriage.  Festival ended on an unsettling but thought-provoking note with Krista Piccotti’s “When the Doorbell Rings,” directed by Rachael Lohrius.  Sarah Gabrielli played Cadence, who became consumed with self-loathing while preparing for a date.  Brian Bocanegra played Richard, her ambiguous, possibly imaginary tormentor.

On May 6, MCCTA faculty advisor Matt Andrews announced the winning playwright at MCCTA’s annual banquet and award ceremony. Mark was awarded the scholarship for “Auto Fail”!   For anyone interested in writing a play for Festival 2018, submissions are due in Matt Andrews’ mailbox in Fontaine on December 8.