"If you've ever been in the theater," says Paul Draper, acting department director at Sonoma State University, "and halfway through you thought, 'I don't really like this play' . . . well, in the One-Page Play Extravaganza, if you don't like a play, just wait three minutes and you'll see a different play."
Last year, Draper invited students and faculty of SSU to contemplate the concept of "water" and to submit plays on that theme. Water, one way or another, is the subject of SSU's performing arts productions this year, all offered under the title "Water Works." With these new submissions, however, the trick was that they could be no longer than a single page. Out of all the scripts submitted, 12 have been chosen for a special one-night-only event on March 13. Free to the public, the evening will showcase the selected works in staged readings acted out by students of the SSU acting department.
"I did one-page-play festivals for three years running in San Francisco several years ago," says Draper. "It's a fun evening for an audience because it's a little different, a fast turnover kind of thing. It works really well in the age of Twitter."
The plays examine the subject of water from different perspectives, exploring H2O from the views of scientists, poets, sociologists and other thirsty people.
"The strict requirement of just having one page forces a certain kind of artistic economy. It's a fun challenge, and I think some very interesting things have come from it."
Those dozen new plays are not the only original works being given the water treatment this year. Though students have always been encouraged to write for their senior projects and other student-driven, on-campus projects, this season marks the first time a new student-authored play has been included in the theater department's official lineup of shows. Dylan Waite's The Séance, directed by Jon Robin (also a student), takes place in Fresno during a drought, and examines the way a young woman deals with all manner of dry spells, literal, emotional and spiritual.
"When Dylan presented this play, we liked that it dealt with the absence of water in some very clever ways," says Draper of Waite, who also submitted a pair of plays for the one-page festival. "Clearly, having grown up in Fresno, he knows what he's writing about."