Volume 96, Issue 67
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

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Western students act up in Purple Shorts

By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette Staff

With so much hidden talent lurking beneath the surface in London, the Purple Shorts one-act play festival is a welcome addition to Western's arts scene.

The second annual festival starts today and runs until Friday, Jan. 31. The idea for Purple Shorts was conceived last year by Michelle Witen, last year's University Students' Council's Theatre Western commissioner, as an outlet for creative Western thespians to produce their own dramatic works for an audience.

A campus-wide call for submissions this September, by this year's Theatre Western commissioner Justin Peter Quesnelle, led to the selection of seven plays that will be performed over three nights in Conron Hall, Rm. 224 of University College.

According to third-year English and film student Sabrina Noble, the festival offers a great opportunity for Western artists.

"Purple Shorts is such a blessedly grand idea because it is the only chance for Western students to write, direct and act all in one festival, [and] it provides a great learning experience for people who are interested in these disciplines."

Noble speaks from firsthand experience, as her play entitled The New Madonna is one of this year's selections featured in the festival. She reveals that her play is "both comical and theoretical" and tells the story of "three women from vastly different backgrounds and time periods united in the quest to create a language for women."

Claire McCague, a Western student in her fifth year of a PhD in chemistry, is a returning participant to Purple Shorts. Last year, her self-penned, self-directed play Intersection was performed to great reviews.

This year, McCague returns with a new production entitled One & Other, which she co-directed with Diane Piccitto. One & Other is McCague's sixth play, and is also amongst her most personal works.

"The play was inspired by a relationship that couldn't be and never was, and the passing of a friend during the summer. It was written suddenly, unexpectedly and completely in a few short days in September," McCague recalls.

Besides the satisfaction of having their work shown before an audience, playwrights such as McCague will receive another bonus at this year's festival: the opportunity to have their plays evaluated by renowned local playwright and director Jayson McDonald.

Each night, McDonald will give a public adjudication of the plays that have been shown, and will also join the cast and crew of each play for private discussions about their works.

Third-year scholar's electives student Derritt Mason co-produced last year's Purple Shorts and is producing this year's festival along with Quesnelle.

According to Mason, an adjudicator is a necessary and welcome addition to this year's festival, as a judge offers "a means of getting the playwright and the actors important feedback on their performances."

This year, the festival has also been turned into a competition, with the productions vying for prizes, including "Best Comedy" and "Most Honoured Play."

Mason said this is a way for the playwrights and actors involved to be recognized for their accomplishments.

Purple Shorts
2002-03 Schedule
(all shows in Conron Hall, Rm. 224, University College)

Wednesday, Jan. 29 – 8 p.m.

The New Madonna
by Sabrina Noble

by Natalie St. Pierre

Waiting for the LTC
by Marty Zahavich

Adam's Questions
by Jeanine Henderson

Thursday, Jan. 30 – 8 p.m.

Tangible Heaven
by Kat Evans

One & Other
by Claire McCague

Eva in a Jar
by Daniel Noble

*Awards Ceremony*

Friday, Jan. 31 – 8 p.m.

'The Best of Purple Shorts'
'Best Comedy'
'Best Drama'
'Most Honoured Play'

$5 per individual evening
$8 for a festival pass
(Jan. 29 and 30)
Available at the door prior to each show,
or can be reserved by e-mail at purpleshorts@hotmail.com


Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department