Student-directed one act plays “The Nine Worst Breakups of All Time” and “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” were performed by Theater on the cafe stage Thursday Feb. 26.
“The Nine Worst Breakups of All Time,” a comedy directed by seniors Cimone Dailey and Destiney Rodriguez, had the audience laughing the whole way through.
“It was my first time directing a play and it was very challenging since I’m usually the one on stage being directed. It was exciting to have the roles flipped,” said Rodriguez.
Eve, played by junior Kelly Ramirez, is a mysterious and magical agent from the organization “Relationships for a Better Tomorrow.” She takes recently single Katie, played by sophomore Sam Saucedo, back in time on a countdown of the nine worst breakups in history.
From cavemen to the Civil War, Eve shows Katie that her breakup wasn’t the most heartbreaking of all. In fact, Eve’s is, with her breakup being number one on the countdown.
“My favorite breakup scene was the caveman one. I thought it was funny how they were able to bring the characters alive,” said Ramirez.
The caveman scene, a cast favorite, starred freshman Michael Alvarez as Ug and junior Elizabeth Sanchez as Rah. Although low on Eve’s countdown, it was pretty high on my favorites.
Despite Eve’s translations of their grunts and gibberish, Alvarez and Sanchez made the argument easy to understand through gestures. Their glazed-over expressions and fascinated stares added to their amusing scene.
“The caveman scene with Ug and Rah was my favorite, because who would have known that cavemen had such complicated love lives?” said Rodriguez.
Some other breakups consisted of throwing a surprise breakup party, breaking up by charades and karaoke, a mistaken proposal, and sending a messenger from “MOB-N: Messengers of Bad News” to a girlfriend patiently waiting at Denny’s.
“My favorite breakup was the mistaken proposal. I love how she just jumps into his arms just to push him away when she gets it,” said Saucedo.
In the mistaken proposal scene senior Kylie Buckles plays Julie and freshman Jalen Taylor plays Tyler. After a long romantic evening Julie thinks Tyler is proposing, but when he gets on one knee and drops the bad news, she leaps into his arms in delight only to register his words and forcefully jump down.
It’s easy to tell why this ironic breakup is number two on Eve’s countdown—Tyler sets up a big night so that they end their relationship on a “high note,” but ends up breaking Julie’s heart.
If I had to choose my favorite breakup, it would be the Civil War scene starring seniors Marilyn Martinez and Julian McDonald.
I was especially entertained by McDonald and his characters Elijah Rhodes and Guy.
Elijah, a soldier in the Civil War, is constantly getting letters from his obsessive girlfriend Jessica. When she threatens to come to the front-line of the war, Elijah forges a letter from President Abraham Lincoln. He gives himself away when he misspells the president’s name as “Abrahem Licon.”
In their correspondence, each character would read their letter aloud as they were “writing” it. When it came to the forged letter from the President, McDonald donned an Abe-style top hat as he unsuccessfully tried to convince his girlfriend he, as President Lincoln, made a mistake with his name and wishes she stay home. McDonald’s transition from Elijah to Lincoln was comically choppy and visually showed the awkwardness and obvious lies.
Despite that they were simply reading letters, Martinez and McDonald’s tone, facial expression, and body language brought more emphasis to the words—allowing for a humorous alternative to simply doing a voice-over.
McDonald’s second scene character Guy, an aspiring actor starring as Danny Zuko in “Grease,” is dating Katie’s travel guide Eve. Eve meets him after rehearsal and he then breaks up with her via musical number, with his “Grease” cast as backup dancers. Musically, he explains how she’s possessive, controlling, and annoyingly organizes his backpack. McDonald seamlessly transitioned characters and added his own charisma to Guy as the innuendos and sarcasm of his dialogue seemed to just flow into the musical number and his shimmy off stage.
In the second play “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” junior Sabrina Lopez captivates the audience in her portrayal as Raja, a Jewish teen living in the Terezin ghetto during World War II. Under the direction of senior Isaac Pineda, the tear-jerking scenes came to life on the stage and made me feel Lopez truly suffered through the horrors of Terezin.
While living in the ghetto, Raja befriends her new teacher Irena, played by junior Geneveave Quijano. With Irena’s guidance she learns how to adapt to her new life and find happiness when everything is taken from her.
As everyone she knows is transported to the camp Auschwitz, Raja takes to her diary as comfort and grows stronger emotionally.
Throughout her time at Terezin, Raja meets a boy named Honza, played by senior Matthew Quintana. They clandestinely exchange cartoons and letters to be published in Terezin’s secret newspaper. Slowly their relationship changes from annoyance, to tolerance, to friendship, and finally to love.
A scene that really hit me emotionally was when Raja and Honza’s relationship clearly transitions to love as Honza makes his feelings known. He brings her a stolen sausage, something she obviously hasn’t had in a long time. Lopez’s quickness to grab the food and her evident appreciation of the gesture makes the simple exchange a defining moment of the play.
To me, the best part was when you learn the significance of the title. Before Honza is sent to Auschwitz, he meets with Raja. They look off into the distance at a small patch of green as Honza tells Raja he gives to her all the flowers and the butterflies there.
“There’s this scene when Raja and Honza are whispering through the wall separating the boys and girls part of the ghetto the night before he’s sent to Auschwitz. She’s frantically trying to find him and he whispers ‘I’m with you wherever you are.’ That’s my favorite scene,” said Lopez.
By the end of the one-act, Lopez and Quintana’s performances had the audience, myself included, feeling as though we had traveled back in time to the 1930s, experiencing the Holocaust through a survivor’s eyes.
In the past I’ve attended Drama’s bigger productions, but it was nice to sit through something shorter that was similarly entertaining and much more intimate. After their recent production of “Shrek the Musical” their night of one acts was a nice change of pace.
I felt that the student’s true acting potential was showcased more than in the musical as the leads of Katie, Eve, and Raja seemed equally as important as the other characters. The student directors came out to introduce themselves before every performance, which made me value the work that went into the acts more. Their introduction made the plays seem less of something that was magically brought together in one hour, and more of a piece of art that time and effort went into.
As the crowd was smaller than their full-on plays or musicals, I really appreciated being up close to the action. As there was only one microphone, hanging from the ceiling, you could feel something much warmer in the atmosphere as the actors used the total projection of their voice rather than personal mics.
This being my first time at a night of one acts put on by Drama, I’m starting to regret never having attended before. I encourage anyone who admires the arts or a more personal sort of performance to attend.
Currently Play Production is working on the spring play “The Foreigner,” to debut in April.
This article was originally posted by Newsbytes Online.