Student-directed play festival showcases breathtaking works

a recap of the spring 2023 Red Door Play Festival

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Eva Schwartz '26 and Dylan Sheppard '25 performing in the Red Door Play Festival Photo By Assistant Op/Ed Editor Megan Hansen

This past weekend six plays debuted as part of the Muhlenberg Theatre Association’s (MTA) Red Doors Play Festival (RDPF). Every semester, six short student-directed and cast plays are produced. Red Doors Play Festival gives students the opportunity to be part of a shorter production, with performances typically ranging from ten to 30 minutes each. This semester, the plays were “Emotional Baggage” by Lindsay Price, “Friendship, Love and the In-Between” by Lauren Silverstein ‘23, “Losing an Angel” by Gred Urbaitis, “Someone in Some Future Time” by Lottie Segal ‘23, “Speed Date” by Janey Allard and “Grade Raid” by Steven Belloise ‘25. The performances took place Saturday Apr. 15 and Sunday Apr. 16 afternoon in The Red Doors, with professors, students and families gathering to watch the shows. 

Kayla Hartman ‘24, RDPF Coordinator, gives insight on her own experience, being a part of the process for multiple semesters and having strong admiration for the program. She says, “This was my third semester as the Red Door Coordinator and my fourth working with the festival. I’ve stayed in this position for so long because I love doing work where I get to help students get involved with theatre on campus and the MTA. In the past we’ve had over 60 students involved, and I love getting to help make all of their experiences rewarding and fulfilling.”

“Everyone worked as a team and was passionate about the play!”

-Carper Wiggins ’26

RDPF is a great place for both experienced students, as well as students who want to get involved in theatre for the first time. Carper Wiggins ‘26, made his theatre debut in “Losing an Angel.” Speaking on RDPF and new theatre experience, he said “It was definitely a good place for people just getting started with acting like me. I felt pretty encouraged by it, because everyone was pretty positive.” He detailed that his favorite part was “Probably the collaboration between the directors and actors, and how everyone worked as a team and was passionate about the play!”

When asked about her experience working on RDPF, Meg Trageser ‘25 said, “My favorite part of Red Doors, like other MTA productions is how everything is done by students. I think there’s something really special about that.” She also detailed specifics unique to the production she worked on, “Emotional Baggage,” saying how “the show had no spoken dialogue, which was incredibly interesting.” With student directors choosing which shows they want to see put on stage, it allows for a wide variety of different kinds of productions to take place. Every single show in RDPF takes on different theatrical methods, with each one being unique.

Steven Belloise ‘25 both wrote and directed a show in the festival, “Grade Raid.” The show detailed two students who decided to break into a teacher’s office to change a grade, but throughout their time together, they discover details about themselves. Belloise detailed how his play became a part of RDPF, saying “I actually wrote it for the Arts Marathon for the 24-hour playwright challenge. The idea to put it as a Red Door started as a joke, but the more I considered it, the more interested I was in directing something of my own. I really enjoyed writing the play, and even though it was a rough draft for the challenge, my friends really enjoyed it and encouraged me to propose it.” 

He also discusses how directing was a very niche experience for him, saying “It was different because I had never taken control of a show, for the lack of a better phrase. What the position meant to me was that I was helping make other actors better and portray honesty in an exciting and captivating way and that I also had a direct and conscious impact on them.” RDPF gives students the opportunity to have new experiences in productions, whether that be acting, directing or writing plays, that they may have never been able to do in previous credits. 

“The point of a play is to be honest, and to show truth, and it’s also supposed to be fun.”

-Steven Belloise ’25

For many actors and directors, RDPF was one of their first productions at Muhlenberg. It is an accessible way to gain experience working in theatre, for both students that choose theatre as their field of study, but also students who want to work on productions recreationally. 

Hartman added,“I love working on the Red Door Play Festival because it gives an opportunity to students who can feel left out or forgotten about. This is a festival for playwrights who haven’t been able to get their work onstage yet, for directors who are on their first official production, for actors who haven’t been in a departmental production yet, for people who have wondered if they would make a good stage manager. I love the Red Doors because it is a festival that is truly for anybody and everybody to just make art, learn, and have fun together. Working on it for this long has been the most fulfilling part of my college career.”

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