UNF students, FSCJ students, and community members brought William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing to life in three places--University Green, Church of the Good Shepherd, and Russell Park at Atlantic Beach. Story coming soon via the newsletter. Click here to view the final performance on April 22, 2012.
Once again, UNF students wowed audiences who attended The Playwrights’ Project, an annual showcase of original one-act plays written and directed by UNF students. Members of Dr. Pam Monteleone’s CRW 3424 The Playwrights Project, the community, and University joined together to produce these remarkable one-act plays that left audiences amazed at the complexity of artistry—in the writing, blocking, acting, and production of these unique student plays.
This year, audiences gathered behind the black curtain of the Robinson Theatre to sit onstage for an intimate theater experience. Patty Ganzelli’s “Makes No Difference” opened the event. Ganzelli, an English major, highlighted the discrepancy between corporate America’s nod to promoting diversity at the expense of those who are differently abled. UNF English major Brian Childers entertained audiences with his “Swordplay,” a work that deftly comments on antagonisms between generations in terms of the acceptance of gays. Kezia Ari, daughter of UNF creative writing faculty Mark Ari, played Marilyn Castille, the daughter of two gay men Frank and Adrian Castille (Kevin Gutierrez and Brian Childers), all of whom must endure the homophobic reactions of Adrian’s mother Lenora Chesnutt (Patty Ganzelli).
In “A Woman Needs Quiet,” English major Brittany Bingham sensitively approaches maternal infanticide in a nuanced, careful way. Bingham approaches the topic from the mother’s perspective, allowing the audience to see the stressors that alienate mothers from themselves and those around them. Laree Wirtz and Katie Knowles both played the role of Susan, one as the suffering mother, the other as an oppressive voice who intones societal norms. Sam Mandrick played David, Susan’s husband, also a contributor to Susan’s depression, highlighted by a chorus of voices—Fransua Estrada, Sean Collado, Elyse Hessley, and Rodnae Johnson.
from themselves and those around them. Laree Wirtz and Katie Knowles both played the role of Susan, one as the suffering mother, the other as an oppressive voice who intones societal norms. Sam Mandrick played David, Susan’s husband, also a contributor to Susan’s depression, highlighted by a chorus of voices—Fransua Estrada, Sean Collado, Elyse Hessley, and Rodnae Johnson.
Elyse Hessley, a psychology major with a minor in drama, brought issues of eating disorders to the stage in “I Promise.” Family and friends gather to mourn the passing of a loved one to an eating disorder. They accuse each other for causing her death while hiding their own struggle with “going to the clinic.” Actors Kristen Wright, Nora Sherlock, Megan Crawford, Elizabeth Nelson, Diannah Williams, Mike Strasser, and Ellen Broadfoot artfully evoked the melancholy and grief of such an incident.
The evening closed with Cherrelle Fant’s “Fun& Games,” a play structured by a moment in UNF’s history when the student government president appointed a second-semester white student to be the assistant director of the African-American Student Union in 2011. The case provided interesting fodder for Fant’s telling take on race. The play opens at a Halloween party. Bianca (Fant) plays Michael Jackson (in white face) while her friend Angela (Britt Hudgins) puts together a petition to oust the white student Cody (James Viggiano III) from office. To complicate matters, Cody shows up at the party in blackface; Amy (Tori Rand), a white student, dresses as a Southern bell and brings her fiancé Tom (Derrick Allen), Angela’s ex-boyfriend, who’s an African American dressed as a slave in chains! The arrival of one of Cody’s fraternity brothers attired in a Klu Klux Klan outfit (Cole Saucer) brings this amusing yet profound play to its emotional climax.
Many thanks to Dr. Pam Monteleone for continuing to make these plays a reality. Her flexibility and commitment to this arduous task of play production astounds all who see her in action. Additional thanks to the directors Sorcha Morency, Andrea Talley, Mike Santana, and Chris Williams; stage managers Sean Collado and Stephanie Jackson; set designer Mike Peck; lighting technicians Samuel Willis and Brittany Bingham; and all those parents, alumni, cast and crew who make these plays possible. Go to UNF’s Facebook page (“English at North Florida”) for photographs or to our newsletter of Spring 2012 for more complete stories.
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