THEATER REVIEW / MOORPARK COLLEGE ONE-ACT FESTIVAL : Campus Play Productions Run the Predictable Student Gamut


Student actors, directors and playwrights display their work in the ninth annual Student Play Festival at Moorpark College. Include a dinner of barbecued chicken or tri-tip in the ticket price, and it’s a relatively painless and often interesting way to spend an evening seeing what’s on the students’ minds.

The answer is, pretty much what’s been on students’ minds forever: love, religion, sex, violence and The Meaning of Life. There’s some comedy, some heavy drama, a ghost story, and a piece that falls into the nebulous category known as “performance art.” Child abuse comes into the picture; AIDS doesn’t.

Some of the plays were written by students; others by professionals, though it would be hard to tell which was which without a program. All of the plays are performed and directed by students, under the ultimate supervision of the college’s theater department.


It’s hard to tell how well-populated that theater department is; some student directors find themselves with so much talent on hand that they use different casts for different performances of the same play; on the other hand, several actors appear in more than one play.

The busiest person may be Jennifer L. Racine, who scripted one play (a series of monologues dealing with child abuse) and stars in it and in “The Duck Pond,” a play by non-student Ara Watson that turns out to be a rather heavy-handed metaphor for totalitarianism, set on the campus of a Christian college. Racine also co-directed both plays and non-student Daniel Meltzer’s “Intermission,” which peeps in on some theater types between acts.

Second busiest may be Andra White, who co-stars in “I Choose to Live” and “Intermission,” and co-directed “The Duck Pond” and “Intermission.”

Brian Rood also gets around: he was in last weekend’s performances of “The Duck Pond,” appears as a (presumably) homeless man in one of a series of monologues, and as a studious, bespectacled playwright in “Intermission.”

Racine, White and Rood are fine; other outstanding performances include that of David Ford as a sort of street preacher in that series of monologues with Rood (and Jeff Shea); Pat Graber, very funny as the bride’s mother in “Bridal Terrorism,” and Kimberly Sumpter as a spooky hitchhiker in non-student Don Nigro’s “Specter.” Sumpter won’t be around this weekend; the others will.

The aforementioned “Bridal Terrorism” is non-student playwright Bill Rosenfield’s solution to the aging canard that a woman over 30 has a better chance of being abducted by terrorists than she does of getting married: this bride-to-be (Shannon Twiss) is out to get herself married any way possible, with a retinue including her family and Brian Tower as a Luke Perry look-alike minister.


As for that “performance art” piece, it’s a number of students dancing around under the direction of Keith Morales while reading Keith Bell’s poetry about The Meaning of Life or some such. It’s pleasant enough, some observers may well find it meaningful. In either event, Bell’s supporting sound collage is very nicely done, though occasionally so loud as to drown out the poetry.

Dinner is served after the second one-act; dessert (carrot cake and coffee, last weekend) after the fifth. Dining takes place outside, so bring a warm wrap; there’s a fair amount of walking between plays, so bring comfortable footwear.


The Moorpark College Student One-Act Play Festival concludes this weekend at Moorpark College, 76075 Campus Road, Moorpark. All performances begin at the Forum Theater, Friday through Sunday evenings at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15; $10 for students, staff and seniors, and include dinner and dessert. For reservations or further information, call 378-1468.