The Vogt Studio Series, known for showcasing entirely student-run productions, is taking its commitment to original student work even further with its most recent installment, Vogt B. “It’s all original student stuff going on here,” Vogt Publicity Manager Edward Larocque said.
Other than the unifying factor of all the work being student-run and produced, there isn’t much in common with the plays, said Lara Szabo Griesman, writer and director of Psycle, one of the plays.
“Thematically they have nothing to do with each other. The only thing that comes together is that they’re all new plays and we all have this budding relationship with our work,” Greisman said. The series begins with Bath Time, written and directed by Jessica Levy.
“Bath Time is set in the ’40s. It’s about a man and his mistress—it’s a very short play, it’s about a twisted love story. It pushes the comfort level and takes place in a bathroom,” Levy said.
Levy said it’s a challenge to be involved in both stages of the creative process.
“You’re very connected to your work, it’s your baby. Stepping back and looking at it objectively is difficult.”
Not all the directors in this year’s Vogt B are working with plays they wrote. Fifty Gallons and Psycle have co-directors in addition to writer-directors. Fifty Gallons, written and directed by Tamar Mankassarian, was co-directed by Radissen Ramoutar.
Ramoutar said directing a play with its writer provided a wealth of perspective.
“You’re accustomed to reading plays from playwrights you’ve never met. The fact that I was fortunate enough to have Tamar—she’s my own encyclopedia to the play, she has all the history.”
Fifty Gallons features the experiences of two people with little connection. “There at two sides of the stage that never cross over. You see how the character’s lives come together at the end in an unexpected and graphic way,” Mankassarian said.
After the intermission, Psycle, written by Greisman and directed by Greisman and Shiza Malik, shifts the tone. Greisman gave a glimpse of what to expect from the multimedia play.
“It explores the amount of the intellectualizing and intellectual distance you have even in a relationship with someone. It’s also a bit of scifi—it takes place in an alternative reality, where time is cyclical, in a mobius strip. There’s also a human tumbleweed and a juggler.” Psycle was originally created for the Works Cited Collective, a Kingston arts group, Greisman said.
“We planned it for about three months where we met up and drank too much. It was a meant as a performance piece,” he said.
The series ends with The Burglar, a piece director Shelby Stanley described as a twisted dark comedy.
“It’s very witty and sharp. It follows the lives of two quirky characters who are rudely awoken by the mysterious ever-so-charming and conniving burglar. It’s got a cliffhanger. There’s jolly good laughs all around.”
Writer James Gilbert wrote The Burglar in a drama department play writing class. Fifty Gallons was written for the same class.
A supportive community for theatre-practitioners, Levy said she appreciates Vogt for the ability to showcase class work.
“What a great opportunity to show a drama student can form a work within in the department and put it on and direct it and cast people. That’s really important,” she said.
All the directors shared enthusiasm for collaborative and student-centred spirit.
“Normally in other productions, if you’re an actor or a director you sometimes you feel out of the loop on certain issues—but not with Vogt because you’re involved in every aspect,” Ramoutar said.
This level of involvement leads to almost romantic levels of passion, Greisman elaborated.
“You get a teenage relationship building—the highs are so high and the lows are so low you feel like you’re going to explode,” she said.
Vogt B plays tonight and tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are $4 and are sold at the door in the Vogt Studio Theatre in Carruthers Hall.
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