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Orange Coast College students showcase their one-act plays at 33rd annual festival

Not to be dramatic, but it’s almost call time for the Orange Coast College student repertory as rehearsals wind to a close and the Costa Mesa community college’s 33rd annual One Act Play Festival comes center stage starting this weekend at the campus’ Drama Lab Studio.

The One Act Play Festival first began with retired instructors Alex Golson and Bill Purkiss as an opportunity for students to choose and direct their own original or published productions.

Golson’s brother Rick Golson, a professor of theater arts and co-manager of the repertory, said: “We are great believers in learning by doing. We are indebted to one of our alumni, Sean Wellengard, who went on to get a graduate degree in playwriting and now gives free playwriting workshops to help the students develop original works for the One Act Festival.”

Wellengard, who works at Orange Coast College’s scholarships office, said he never tells the students that “they need to change this or that, but ask them why and if this is what they intended.”

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“The goal of the workshops was not only to help students understand formatting and play structure so their work might be easily produced by the [Orange Coast student repertory], as well as other theaters in the area, but also to give a high-quality festival of plays to close out the academic year,” Wellengard said.

The One Act Play Festival runs Saturday and Sunday and the following weekend, May 25 and 26. It will include five different plays, averaging about 30 minutes each.

Bryan Harris, a fifth-year student, described his production, “Love,” as a “sadcom.”

“It’s a comedy in some areas, but it does not shy away at all from the sadness of life,” he said.

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He said he doesn’t like the term “dramedy” — a show that is part drama and comedy — for his play because he feels it doesn’t capture how “satirical and abstract” it is.

Harris said “Love” is loosely based on a story by Winston Rowntree but that he wanted to put “myself in it and my own experiences.” He said he has been writing since January. The show, which will play Sunday, is the fourth draft of it he’s written.

“At least one thing people can take away from my show is … if you feel lonely, if you feel like no one understands you, there are people out there that do,” Harris said.

Amira Satah, a freshman, said she started writing her play, “Thursday Shift,” last semester as part of an assignment for her directing class. She said she expanded it when Anthony Farley, a fellow student and one of the actors in the production, suggested it.

Satah described the play as “kind of a farce, really. It’s a mix between comedy and a bit of drama in there, but it’s mostly a farce.”

The show is “basically a married couple cheats on each other with the same person,” she said.

“Anthony and I have put a lot of work into this … talking about it ... trying to find a cast and trying to get the costumes together,” Satah said. “It was definitely a stressful process, but I do feel very proud that my name’s going to be on the program as director and writer.”

IF YOU GO

What: One Act Play Festival

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When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and May 25 and 26

Where: Drama Lab Studio, Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa

Cost: Free

Information: “Thursday Shift” will play Saturday and May 26. “Diversions,” “What is Honestly, Personally Best,” “Stern All for Your Lives” and “Love” will play Sunday and May 25. All shows are recommended for mature audiences.

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