‘Emergency Prep’ and ‘We Lovers’ showcase the art of the succinct
THE art of the one-act play is not lost on Adams State University’s Xperimental Theatre. “Emergency Prep” and “We Lovers” are two one-acts that allow this theater program to shine. New faces and new stories are what make coming to the theater a treasured and time-honored tradition. When we forget, it’s easiest to come back to the one-act.
The one-act lives among its peers in the short story and short film. Some may argue that writing a feature-length film, novel, or three-act play is the most labored-over of work. This is obvious to a degree, but I argue that the concise and poignant nature of short-form art allows for truly great works to shine (on the flip side, it makes very bad works of art shine, too). Every word is labored over. Every performance’s nuance has to be scripted in such a way that it doesn’t seem scripted at all. Keeping the art short and tight is a mind-numbingly constraining process.
Through constraint, the fat gets trimmed and the poetry is easier to see.
These two seemingly unconnected stories are about community, the importance of having a tribe, love, friendship, and the unfortunate realities of being a human. Yet, unfortunate as they may be, they have a tendency to force us to stop and look around at the beauty.
EMERGENCY PREP and WE LOVERS
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11
WHERE: Adams State University Xperimental Theatre
TICKETS: General admission: $13; admission is free for Adams State Associated Students and Faculty
- online at theatre.adams.edu
- in-person at the Theatre Box Office from 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday
- or call 719-587-8499.
The production run time is approximately one hour including a short intermission.
Set in the confines of Emma’s apartment, this story follows a group of neighbors who come together to prepare for the next emergency – whatever that may be. A recent break-in has upset the natural balance of things, so rather than batten down the hatches and wait, these people have decided to take it upon themselves to make the apartment building – their home – feel safe.
Emma’s neighbors, Graham, Jack, and Christina – total strangers to her – are eager, strange, and weird. Yet, they all share one goal: to make home just a little safer.
The meeting turns into a strange and chaotic mess, but performed with the careful framing of a Hitchcock film. The Hitchcockian influences are elevated, to allow itself to have modern themes, and modern problems. Stories are written about the times in which they exist. “Emergency Prep” is certainly a reflective and hyper-realistic look at ourselves, and is absolutely pointing the finger at how ridiculous we all are – which, throughout, is hilarious.
The actors are obviously nervous. The heat of the lights above seemed to be a little extra hot on opening night. But, and it’s a BIG but, that nervousness and line-stumbling feels genuine, even scripted. Raw nerves create real fear and that is how you carve a good performance into a great performance. And the actors in “Emergency Prep” are no exception. Their characters are nervous and scared. What if something like this happens again? The constant shuffling of characters from seat to seat – standing, sitting, pacing, fidgeting, eating, back and forth – adds to the heightened fear and trauma they feel. It’s like watching a street magician slide around wooden cups that are slowly disintegrating between his fingers.
There is a lot going on in this one-act: a lot of movement; a lot of dialogue; a whole lot of screaming and yelling, boasting and gloating. It’s normal people trying their best to have a battle of wits. What is supposed to be a meeting of minds becomes a duel of egos.
Quick and funny, “Emergency Prep” is nothing short of a perfect one-room, one-act play.
This one-act is a calmer, yet equally insightful, look into the human condition. Set in an aspen stand on the outskirts of town, we meet Mama’s Boy sitting on a rock, staring up at a full moon. His face is bruised. Little Bit joins him and holds his hand. He asks if it was his dad again.
There is no hiding from who you are, but there are sanctuaries. This place in the woods is a place to take your shoes off and enjoy the grass. There lurks no danger. It’s an outside place where just the sky exists.
It’s also a gathering place for three friends. They come together to tell tales and stories around the campfire. It’s their tribe’s tradition they’ve had for who knows how long. It’s their thing. They welcome any who are willing to beckon a tale from the ether within and bring it into the open.
To be human is to feel pain. To be human is to be lonely. “We Lovers” says to its audience: You don’t have to do it alone. Mama’s Boy, Little Bit, Doctor Sister, and Wolf and Bird exist in this space just as eager, strange, and weird as the characters in “Emergency Prep,” but there is no hyper-reality to move around in. These performances are more grounded, more concise, and nowhere nearly as animated.
Each character delivers a tale under the full moon, which means that each actor gives an impressive monologue (which I suspect are pages-long). These tales feel fantastic and bear much of the soul outward. They are the philosophical ponderings of young minds, yearning for answers.