Theatre Department Presented a Virtual Double Feature of One-Act Plays


From Thursday, Sept. 24 to Sunday, Sept. 27, the Eastern New Mexico University Department of Theatre and Digital Filmmaking presented “American Voices By and About Women.” This was a virtual production of two one-act plays, performed by students and directed by Anne Beck, a professor of theatre at ENMU. The first play was “Overtones” written by Alice Gerstenberg, and the second play was “Trifles” written by Susan Glaspell. Both plays are from the Little Theatre Movement from 1912 to the 1920s, which was against the large commercial Broadway plays and “devoted themselves to the production of experimental one-acts” Beck said.

“Overtones” by Alice Gerstenberg has influences of German expressionism and the new Freudian psychology. In the play, there are two characters who are having a polite, socially acceptable conversation and two other characters who serve as the voice inside each of the two characters’ heads. These voices inside the other characters' heads do not follow the social acceptable rules of conversations and voice how they truly feel. The play stars Alexandra Sena as Harriet, Lara Harkness as Hetty (the voice in Harriet’s mind), Angelica Casteel as Margaret, and Ariana Gasparlin as Maggie (the voice in Margaret’s mind).

“Trifles” by Susan Glaspell is based on a real murder trial the author covered, and the play focuses on the effects of rural isolation. Set in Iowa, the story follows a set of characters investigating the death of a man whom they believe was murdered by his wife. The play explores the reasons why the man’s wife would have killed him and whether or not she had good reasoning in doing so. An undertone of the play that seemed apparent was how condescending the men were to the women. The plays stars Kieran Verduzco as the County Attorney, Desaili Gomez as Sheriff Peters, Aric Saiz as Mr. Hale, Lara Harkness as Mrs. Hale and Angelica Casteel as Mrs. Peters.

The cast said they were only able to rehearse over Zoom, but were able to use the department’s props, which were delivered to their homes. Harkness, the actress who played Hetty in the first play and Mrs. Hale in the second, said they worked extra to feel a “connection” while they were acting. For developing characters, Sena said she “got more into character” once she got the costumes and props. For Harkness, she said she got more into the character when she found the right space in her house in which to perform. The actors felt that it was harder for them to perform over Zoom; Sena said that without “blocking” it was harder for her to remember her lines. She also felt that in both pieces, it showed that you can never tell what is going on in someone’s head. Casteel said that while using technology to perform these plays they would “accidentally modernize things” by saying words or things in a certain way that may not have been around. Sena said they had to think more about their reactions because they could be seen more easily on camera than they would on stage.

Though there are no in-person events this semester, the Theatre and Digital Filmmaking Department is still presenting many different events. The Fine Arts Department’s calendar is available at enmu.edu.

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