Three days, thirteen plays: Red Door Play Festival

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Caeda Billows ‘18 (L ) and Jullian Burger ‘20 (R) in the performance of In Finite Potential. The show will be featured as a Mainstage next semester. Photo courtesy of Demetra Demetriades

When you go to a theatrical school like Muhlenberg, there are always chances to see fabulous writers, directors, and performers in action. This past weekend, April 7-9, the Red Door Play Festival took over the Red Door Cafe in Seegers Union. Three days, 13 plays – what more could any theater-goer want?

The plays featured during the festival ranged from original pieces by Muhlenberg students to short one-acts by acclaimed playwrights such as David Auburn and Harold Pinter. Each play was presented at least twice over the three-day event, and the first showing of a few plays were followed by brief talk-backs among the cast, crew and audience. The performers and directors were able to express what went into putting on their short but powerful productions, and the audience gave their feedback about the play and what they took from it as viewers.

Esther Kruman ‘18 was not only a director during the festival, but a playwright as well. Her play, In Finite Potential, has even been selected to appear on the Muhlenberg Mainstage next year as part of the school’s New Voices Play Festival. “As a playwright, it is such a gift [to present and direct my own play]!” Kruman said. “This was my chance to produce my play the way it is inside my head. It was also terrific as a director because I have such a deep understanding of this piece.”

Kruman says directing is a great privilege, but once the production begins on the stage, it’s out of her hands. “Directors have a great deal of control, and I was looking forward to bending all the variables into my own reality. But once the performance begins, it’s the actors who hold all the power.” Kruman’s was a two-woman piece featuring Caeda Billows ‘18 and Jullian Burger ‘20 in the roles of Dulcinea and Cassandra, respectively. The story revolves around two best friends whose relationship is threatened when Cassandra catches her husband Byron and Dulcinea in bed, and later learns that Dulcinea is pregnant with Byron’s baby just after she, Cassandra, has suffered a miscarriage. The poignant play touches upon many evocative themes, including fidelity, alcoholism, and a woman’s relationship with her family, herself and the world.

Michaela Barczak ‘19, the Red Door Play Festival Coordinator, says the festival is a great opportunity for Muhlenberg students to get in on the theatrical action. “The Red Doors Play Festival is one of the most accessible directing and performance opportunities for students, especially freshmen, so it plays a major role in the Muhlenberg Theatre community.”

A great thing about the festival is its accessibility to all students. “Red Doors are amazing,” Barczak says, “because they reach beyond the theatre community —students don’t have to be a member of the Muhlenberg Theatre Association to participate in the festival, so it’s a great way to try something new, get involved, or support performances on campus without having to be a theatre major.”

The plays in the festival ranged from comical to serious, intense to lighthearted, and each one was a representation of the directors, actors, and Muhlenberg theatrical community as a whole. One piece, Amateurs, featured a young woman attempting to confront a politician who ruined her father’s political career decades earlier; Mere Mortals was a light, funny piece about three construction workers on their lunch break discussing their true identities and who they might have been in their past lives.

Theatre at Muhlenberg never disappoints, and all of the actors, writers and directors who participated in the Red Door Play Festival deserve a great deal of recognition and congratulations for all of their hard work and dedication to their craft.

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