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Donn B. Murphy One Acts Festival

January 30, 2017

 (From left to right) Director Makayla Kessel, Producer Lilli Seabol, Stage Manager Marc Shaffer, and Tech Director Lura Auel

 

       Every year, Mask and Bauble puts out a call for student works to perform at the annual Donn B. Murphy One Acts Festival (DBMOAF). A panel of judges consisting of Georgetown faculty members chooses three works to showcase at the festival and the directing staff then typically picks one piece of those remaining three. This year marks the 31st DBMOAF, and it features two plays in conversation with each other: Victimology by Rachel Linton (SFS ‘19) and The Gun by Grayson Ullman (COL ‘16). The two pieces, in the words of director Makayla Kessel (SFS ‘18) “highlight the invisible weight that people carry” and explore the nature of memory and how it comes into play with people who are victimized.

       Victimology takes place outside of a courtroom as two siblings await the verdict of their abusive father’s parole hearing. The siblings have different perspectives on the abuse because of their respective ages when it occurred. They now disagree with each other on whether or not they should forgive their father. Victimology explores themes of trauma and forgiveness as well as the concept of the “perfect victim.” According to Linton, “To some extent people are defined by their trauma and by what has happened to them and so to say that they shouldn’t be feels dismissive of those who have not overcome their trauma in a way that is satisfactory.” She disagrees with the idea that “the way to get past trauma is to forgive the people who hurt you.” The play was previously selected to be performed at the Blank Theater, a nonprofit theater in Santa Monica, as part of the 24th Annual National Young Playwrights Festival.

       The second play, The Gun, tells the story of two men who are thrown into a purgatory-like “paradise” and their struggle to escape and reach actual Paradise. They can no longer remember who they were before or why they were sent to this paradise, but they do know that they have a mission. Along the way, they receive mysterious messages. Eventually, however, one of the messages that they receive is a gun and the two must grapple with its significance.

       After the two plays, the cast will perform mime pieces that draw on themes from both The Gun and Victimology. According to Kessel, “Using the mime format helps to highlight how a memory is really not exactly how it happened in real life just like how a mime is not exactly how a play would happen.” The mime performance will be written and workshopped by the cast.

       This year marks the first time the festival has been a main-stage production, meaning it receives top billing. In previous years, the festival had a smaller billing and budget, so sets were much simpler and Mask and Bauble could only feature one play. According to producer Lilli Seabol (COL ‘17), “It’s really cool this year that they changed the format in a way that we have all the perks of a main-stage show and that we therefore were able to expand.”

       Presenting two different plays in one night, however, comes with its own set of challenges. The crew must figure out how to transition from The Gun, which calls for a completely black room, to the court hallway needed for Victimology. “We’re working with a lot of transition materials and seeing how we can really get both messages effectively conveyed with one space,” says tech director Lura Auel (NHS ‘18).

       The festival marks the first Mask and Bauble show of the school year that is not a co-production with other clubs. According to Kessel, having a Mask and Bauble show allows new members to join the club and get to know it better. Stage manager Marc Shaffer (SFS ‘17) describes Mask and Bauble as a club that focuses on “classics, modern classics, musicals, and student-written work.” He continues: “Right now we’re trying to focus on increasing diversity of ideas, people.”

       DBMOAF will run from February 16-18 and again from February 23-25. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for students and can be purchased either online or at the door.

 

PC: Zoe Novak

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