Red Door Play Festival

A successful weekend of student direction and performance

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Photo Courtesy of Ally Duvak '22 | Evelyn Carlin '24, Olivia Thiemann '24, and Allison Rutyna '23 in WAKE directed by Ally Duvak.

The Muhlenberg Theatre Association’s (MTA) Red Door Play Festival took place this semester Nov. 19-21. Each performance showcased seven plays and had a running time of two-and-a-half hours, taking place in the Seegers Union Red Door Cafe. Each of the seven plays had a total running time between ten and forty-five minutes. In addition to a talented cast of actors, the MTA created ample opportunities for students to stage manage and partake in the technical side of productions.

Rozie Hoff ‘24 directed “A Tale of Two Spectators” by Peter Manos, in which two characters watch as their spouses have an affair with each other, and end up finding out more about themselves in the process. Brianna Ramberg ‘24 presented “Things People Say” by Charles Mee, a collection of interweaving monologues with themes of gender identity. “On the Act of (Possibly) Getting Engaged,” a 10-minute play by Lottie Segal ‘23 was directed by Lili Daskais ‘23, and follows a rollercoaster of events as a woman’s wedding proposal to her wedding-planner girlfriend flies off the rails, and the two must figure out how to get engaged. Jamen Meistrich ‘24 directed “Post-its (Notes on a Marriage)” by Paul Dooley and Winnie Holzman, an avant-garde piece which follows a lifelong marriage, told solely through the post-it notes left on the refrigerator over the years.

“I think the fact that the production was set in such a small space made me feel so much more intimate with not only my cast mates, but with the audience as well.”

-Evie Carlin ’24

“Directing my first official production in person was very exciting! Because it was a 10-minute play, we really had time to play with it and fine tune a lot of the moments. One challenge was that when my actors took off their masks for tech, it was quite an adjustment. I suddenly had way more notes and my actors were like ‘Wow, I didn’t know your face looked like that when you said that line!’ So that was difficult at first, but having another technical rehearsal was very helpful,” said Daskais.

Some ambitious student directors went on to direct their own original plays, and used RDPF as an outlet to see their works come to life. Taylor Reed ‘23 directed an original play called “Behind Words,” which followed an author in distress over finding the perfect ending to his latest book, and ends up working with the protagonist of the novel to solve the problem. Ally Duvak ‘22 premiered a piece called “Wake,” which followed a couple’s shocking discoveries following the sudden passing of a friend. Lastly, Lauren Silverstein ‘23 directed “A Classic Love Story,” which explores the many ways that people construct and develop interpersonal relationships, especially in ways that transcend common mediatized stereotypes.

“It was a really exciting and invigorating process watching this thing that I had stored in my brain for so long take on a new life onstage.”

-Ally Duvak ’22

Josh Freeman ‘23, a cast member in “Behind Words,” stated, “The Red Door Play Festival was an amazing experience. I loved working with Taylor Reed and the rest of the crew to bring her original play to life. Performing new work is one of my favorite things that Red Doors makes space for.”

Reed, Duvak and Silverstein also held talkback sessions following their performances, where audience members were able to ask questions and listen to the creative processes of these student playwrights.

“I read a portion of the play [“Wake”] in the class that I wrote it for,” said Duvak. “But the Red Door Play Festival was essentially its world premiere. It was a really exciting and invigorating process watching this thing that I had stored in my brain for so long take on a new life onstage.”

Ryan Weintraub ‘25 said, “Acting in the Red Door Play Festival was a great introduction into the performance opportunities of Muhlenberg. Working with peers made the experience both low stakes and fun! The play I was in [“Things People Say”] was unique as it focused on the actors’ identities and gave me the opportunity to grow as a performer and a person.”

Another actor, Evie Carlin ‘24, explained, “I really enjoyed the entire process of the Festival. I think the fact that the production was set in such a small space made me feel so much more intimate with not only my cast mates, but with the audience as well. Also, since the plays were very short, the production process felt very relaxed and quick, but at the same time I felt like I had plenty of time to make a real connection with my character and the story. It truly was a pleasure to participate in live theatre again as well as watch the immense amount of talent my peers have at this school.”

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