Three comedies and a couch

Emerging directors invite all to free student performances

What do two teenagers with romance on their minds, a narcoleptic boom mic operator, and the perfect American family have in common?

Answer: They will all share the stage this weekend at “Three comedies and a couch: an evening of comfortable comedy,” to be presented Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12 by the York College Theatre Department.

There is no cost for admission.

(l-r) Mitch Roush, Thomas Lichty, and Patrick Clark will direct "Three Comedies and a Couch: An evening of Comfortable Comedy."

The production is comprised of three one-act plays, the work of three emerging directors (two current students and once recent graduate) and their student casts.

While the production is meant to entertain audiences, it is also a learning experience for young directors Mitch Roush, Patrick Clark, and Thomas Lichty. They have overseen every detail of their productions, from script and cast selection, to budgets and set construction.

Roush has an additional tie to the show he is directing: he also wrote the piece, entitled “Quiet on the Set.” Roush created the one-act earlier this year while studying acting and entrepreneurship at The International Theatre Academy of Norway. The show is about “the worst film shoot ever,” says Roush. The plot involves a crazed director, some self-involved actors, two pages of nonsense dialogue and the aforementioned narcoleptic boom mic operator.

“It’s kind of like an episode of Seinfeld. Nothing really happens, but you laugh a lot,” he says.

(l-r) Jordan Siebold, Erin Florea, and Morgan Goracke perform "Quiet on the Set."

Roush aspires to be a professional playwright and plans to seek publication for “Quiet on the Set” after the performance. He has written one other show, “The Search for Mother Goose,” and is working on a third, which explores themes of domestic abuse and children fighting against circumstance. Roush currently works as an admissions counselor for York College.

Clark’s show, “Dinner with the McGuffins,” focuses on a typical American high school student named James, who brings his girlfriend, Karen, over for an afternoon of romance. As James and Karen attempt to make sparks fly, they are repeatedly interrupted by everything from James’ eccentric family members to the FBI. Clark says the show is a lot of fun and should be a crowd-pleaser.

Clark, a junior business communication major, says that though he has participated in many theater productions, directing has been a big challenge for him due to the level of preparation needed. “I’m usually a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person,” he admits. Being responsible for so many details has forced him to be much better about managing his time and working ahead.

(l-r) Jameson Trauger, Jasmine Agee, and Drew Leonard perform in the wacky comedy "Dinner with the MacGuffins," directed by Patrick Clark.

Working closely with John Baker, associate professor of communication and theatre and head of Department of Communication, has been highly instructive, says Clark. “He’s great about giving us opportunities to exercise the lessons we learn in the classroom…he takes his own years of experience and helps us to build our own experiences,” he says.

When it comes to Baker’s involvement in the individual shows, “Our vision is still there, but he adds a voice of reason and simplicity,” says Clark, who aspires to work in the film industry after graduation. “[Baker] is a great listener and counselor. Working with him was one of the things that really sold me on YC.”

The final show of the evening will be Edward Albee’s “The American Dream,” which director Thomas Lichty describes as a dark comedy. “It’s funny, but it has serious undertones,” and it makes you think, says Lichty. The plot involves a married couple obsessed with the idea of having the perfect child. In the end, the audience comes to realize that the couple’s version of perfection—wealth, professional success, good looks—is purely cosmetic and ultimately empty.

Though the show was written in the 1960s, Lichty says it has something to say that is still applicable today.

Lichty, a senior English major, says he chose the show for its serious undertones. “It is the kind of play I wanted to expose my actors to.” He warns, however, that the show has some content that is appropriate for mature audiences only.

Lichty says he has appreciated the experience of student-directing, as it is an opportunity to grow in his leadership and management skills. Also, it appeals to him as an aspiring author. So much of a play is created by the director in the space between the dialogue, he says, that directing a play becomes like writing a novel.

All are invited to support these aspiring artists by attending the performances on the 11th and 12th in Gurganus Hall. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

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