Theatre Students Perform Short Stories in Phillips Hall

Student Alex Gonzalez performs as a lector in “The Way of the Machete.” / Julian E. Romero / el Don

An albino musician who is an outcast in his city. A child who loses his father in a machete match. A boy who desperately wants to become a kite is given mental help. These stories and more were performed by students during “One,” the second play of the Theatre Department this season.

The play was based on Santa Ana College’s book of the year, “One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories” where student actors had creative freedoms on how they wanted to perform the show.

These creative approaches ranged from music composition to changing the perspectives of how a story should be told.

“This was the first time a play has ever been done about the book and the audience loved it,” Box Office Manager Karina Rebolledo said.

The anthology is a collection of 23 stories from different authors around the world. Each story contains different problems or situations people face; they are all connected by the similarities that people have to approach their situations around the world despite different cultures and backgrounds.

Juan Ruiz, SAC student and Theatre Major, composed a guitar arrangement for the piece “The Albino,” a story about a young albino man who struggles to be accepted by his community because of his physical appearance. Ruiz strummed a solemn chord progression that accompanied singer Emma Rivera, SAC third year and Performing Arts Major.

The song was sincere and wholehearted and captured the sorrow felt by the albino character.

“A man who cannot find love is something I can relate by being an immigrant myself. This feeling of not wanting to be desired by others,” Ruiz said.

Alex Gonzalez, SAC freshman and Theatre Major, played the role of the lector in “The Way of the Machete,” is about a young boy who loses his father in a machete fight, and taught a valuable lesson of being strong willed and to not give up.

Gonzalez gave a strong performance by offering a different perspective of the narrative. Accompanied by shadow puppetry as a visual aid, told the story in third person which gave more depth and elaboration to the piece.

“Storytelling is the most important thing in people’s lives. They can find a story relatable, make them laugh, make them feel,” Gonzalez said.  

“A Boy and His Kite,” is about a boy who believes that he is a kite from gazing up in the sky seeing how majestic they flutter in flight realizing that is where he wants be. He becomes more convinced about his new identity as he notices that he can not relate to any human being.

Kiran Gonse, Sophomore and Theatre Major, plays the role of the boy’s therapist. The therapist in the short story has no dialogue, and is only mentioned briefly. Gonse is given a challenge to help develop speaking parts and emotions for the therapist. The dialogue moved fluidly. Each delivered line felt that it had a place, a purpose and that it almost came from the book.    

William Mittler, SAC faculty member of the Theatre Department, was approached by the Book of the Year committee to write the play and adapted selected stories to their theatrical performance. The stories all share a message about communication and the challenges that come with it.

“The theme for the show was really about people trying to communicate. That we all struggle to communicate with each other,” Mittler said.                  

“Translating a book of a collection of stories to a stage is not easy, and William did an amazing job on that end to articulate the message with stories that do not have dialogue or any scenes,” Chair of the Theater Arts Department, Chris Cannon said.

The show received great traction from the crowd selling out its original four showtimes, and to compensate for the high demand for tickets the Theatre Department added a fifth show to its program.

“I witnessed how talented and genius students are, and while working with them, the amount of trust that can be put into them, how we can reach a goal together. It is amazing,” Mittler said.

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