By Jose Castillo, news staff
This semester, students from varying majors and backgrounds have taken over every aspect of theater production, from writing to directing to acting. Silver Masque, the student-sponsored branch of Northeastern’s Department of Theatre, is hosting a series of six one-act plays that will be performed every two weeks.
“Over the summer, students wrote their plays, then these plays got selected by Silver Masque and assigned a [performance date],” Silver Masque President Pablo Hernandez Basulto, a third-year theater major, said. “Three weeks before the performance, the director gets a cast and they organize rehearsals.”
Five productions remain this semester. The next, “The Casting,” was written by Connor Doherty, a senior communications major, and will be performed Thursday, Oct. 8.
“It’s kind of a satirical and exaggerated look at the casting process for commercials,” Doherty said. “I worked on a production team at a furniture company this past spring, and part of that was me sitting in on the auditions and also being part of the casting process. All the nuances that go into casting, a lot of it was based on how someone looks, or how much diversity there is.”
Each one-act lasts about 10 minutes and has a minimal set and cast, according to Elke Thoms, a third-year psychology major. Thoms wrote “Short Distance,” which will be performed Thursday, Oct. 22.
“It’s something that I originally wrote for my creative writing class that I took freshman year,” she said. “It’s about a couple in a long-distance relationship and it’s the end of their time in college and they’ve successfully managed to go for four years in different places. Then they realize that they’re going to be separate in grad school as well.”
“Awake” by Liam Hofmeister, which will be performed Thursday, Nov. 5, is about the moment of waking up in the morning and not getting out of bed.
Basulto also wrote a play, “Structured,” which will be performed Thursday, Nov. 19.
“Many individuals unintentionally contribute to injustice even if they are far away, so I decided to write a play about structured integrated violence in Mexico,” he said.
The final play, whose performance is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 10, is “A Few Strange Men” by Evalena Friedman.
“I used moments from my own life, from working at Northeastern’s call center to something as simple as waiting for my food at a restaurant, and asked questions like ‘What if a complete stranger told me their life story over the phone? What if I just went over to that guy’s table and took a fry off his plate?’” Friedman, a third-year theater major, said. “What ended up taking shape over the past two years is a piece that takes these ‘what ifs’ and inserts them into the lives of three women and their very unusual, very emotionally charged encounters with three strangers.”
Silver Masque, which at 81 years old is the longest-running club on campus, has filled a void for theater students on campus by hosting a series of workshops and fortnights. Fortnights include an open mic session followed by a student-produced production.
During workshops, members of the Boston theater community give advice to aspiring actors, writers, directors and stagehands. Past workshops have included lectures on headshots and combat acting.
“Fortnight is a really cool way of seeing what everyone else is working on,” sophomore international affairs major and theater minor Kira Topalian said. “Who’s writing what, who’s working on songs, who’s arranging, who really wants to act and do monologues.”
The nights give theater majors and non-theater majors alike an opportunity to perform and gain inspiration from each other.
“It’s really inspiring to see your peers go up and perform monologues that they have been working on, and things that they have written…at least in the past, and I hope this continues,” Katra Laidlaw, an environmental studies major and actress, said.” But it’s really been an open space, really supportive, good sense of community.”
For locations, times and other club activities, visit Silver Masque’s Facebook page.
Oct. 8 – “The Casting” by Connor Doherty.
Oct. 22 – “Short Distance” by Elke Thoms.
Nov. 5 – “A Wake” by Liam Hofmeister.
Nov. 19 – “Structured” by Pablo Hernandez Basulto
Dec. 10 – “A Few Strange Men” by Evalena Friedman.
Editor’s note: Liam Hofmeister is an editor at The News.
Photo by Scotty Schenck.