Next week the curtain will raise on the One Act Festival, an annual tradition for thespians at the International School of Beijing (ISB) now in its 12th year. This year’s festival features a lineup of 11 short plays representing a wide range of genres.
Ahead of the festival, ISB spoke to three seniors to learn more about their plays and efforts behind the scenes. Melanie B will direct The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a musical tale of a troupe of misfit kids competing in a spelling competition; Kelsey S is at the helm of Magnificent Nightmare, a play written by ISB alumna Suzy Kim ('12) that depicts a man’s gradual descent into madness; and Connie Z directs her original play Work in Progress, which she describes as “a twisted love story for people who don’t like love stories.”
What inspired you to direct a play in this year’s festival?
Melanie: I’ve always had a passion for directing. I have a distinct vision in my head that I love seeing realized on stage. When the opportunity came up to direct in the One Act Festival, I jumped on it.
Kelsey: This is my second year directing. My sister used to rave about Mr. Rosevear’s theater class and I wrote my college application essay about how theater has made me more outgoing and confident.
Connie: I was a bit of a latecomer to theater, joining in eleventh grade. After one year, I discovered I loved it. I also have an interest in creative writing, so this year I decided to write and direct my own play.
What do you want audiences to gain from your plays?
Melanie: I want people to laugh and understand the pressures adults place on kids during school, especially how some expectations are unrealistic.
Kelsey: For a “theater of cruelty” play, you want to unsettle the audience and look at things from a different point of view. Because this is a whole new genre for me – I hadn’t learned about it until Mr. Rosevear suggested it to me – I want to develop my own deeper understanding about it.
Connie: I just want the audience to discuss the play. There is a lot of overlap in the monologues. If you watch one set, there is one clear storyline. It is only by discussing [the play] with other people that you discover there is more than just one story.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
Melanie: It has made me appreciate the work that goes into creating a piece of art. Knowing what needs to be done as a director, I now see plays from a different perspective. I have loved seeing my cast have fun together and come up with their own ideas.
Kelsey: It keeps you on your toes. Managing so many things – from lighting and sets to actors and script changes – prepares you for organizing events and keeping things in order and on schedule.
Connie: I am really happy with my cast. I have excellent actors and they have embraced their roles just as I had hoped. Seeing my characters come to life has been very interesting.
The One Act Festival will be held on Thursday and Friday (January 19 and 20), with plays staged in the theater, Black Box, and studio 1726. Please contact the high school office for a schedule.