Western puts on Purple Shorts

Festival features student-written plays

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Forget the sub-zero temperatures; it’s time to put on your purple shorts.

Theatre Western’s Fifth Annual Purple Shorts play festival returns to Western this week. The festival, which consists of seven 20-minute plays ranging from comedies to dramas, has something for everyone. All plays are written and directed by Western students.

Some acts involve adult language and situations, so you may want to leave your little sister at home.

Alexander Skelton, director of the Purple Shorts play A Friend Like Christian, says the festival’s strength is Theatre Western’s volunteer crew.

“More than anything I’ve been impressed with the level of professionalism and dedication from the actors, producers and crew,” Skelton says. “They’re all volunteering their time to do this and so much effort is being put in that it really does inspire a first-timer like me to try and keep up.”

Skelton admits telling a complex story in 20 minutes is difficult.

“The script that I submitted was one that I had written back in high school, and it timed out at about 45 minutes,” Skelton says. “My biggest challenge was cutting it down and still maintaining enough of the story to get the impact across.”

According to Kate Rebry, the festival’s stage manager, the time limitations also challenge Purple Shorts’ organizers.

“The main challenge with a variety of shorter plays is [maintaining] communication between all the individual plays and making sure we are all on the same page,” Rebry says.

“With a longer play, you develop more of a connection with the cast. With Purple Shorts, each play has their own individual stage manager. My job is to keep backstage organized and to keep the show flowing nicely.”

Skelton says the rewards of participating in such a unique festival are vast.

“I love being onstage and just getting the chance to tell a powerful story,” Skelton says. “It’s pretty addictive.”

Purple Shorts runs Feb. 13 and Feb. 15 at 9:30 p.m. at The Wave. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased at InfoSource or at the door. Visit www.theatrewestern.ca for more information.

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