Fresh Act a Breath of Fresh Air in Parker Theatre

There is always something so impressive about witnessing a production completely written, casted, directed, produced by and starring students. Fresh Act’s annual fall showcase was no exception to this. 

“Fresh Act is special because it gives students from any concentration a playing space to put on works they want to see,” said fourth-year Theatre Studies major Mads Leigh-Faire, one of three Fresh Act producers. “We accept and encourage student written work, which allows students to get their voices out.”

The theater group accepted submissions of 10-minute scenes from student writers and directors in the beginning of the semester. Mads-Leigh Faire, along with co-producers Jillian Feuerstein, third-year Theatre Arts major, and Raine Grayson, fourth-year Theatre Studies major, chose the scenes that would be featured. Next, auditions opened for actors. While some who auditioned were members of the theater department, all students were encouraged to try out. 

“Fresh Act seemed like a great way to meet more students that enjoy writing, directing and acting,” said first-year Theatre Arts major John Sullivan, who landed his first role in a New Paltz production through Fresh Act.

The Fresh Act producers, along with the directors of each scene, watched each audition and made the final casting decisions. Once casting was complete, it was each director’s responsibility to schedule rehearsals and meetings until the weeks leading up to the performance, where scenes were performed and fine-tuned in front of the producers.

The showcase featured eight scenes written and performed by New Paltz students: “Anastasia,” “Hedge Pruners,” “It’s Not Real,” “The Intervention,” “Trophy,” “I Never Caught Your Name,” “School Bus Graveyard” and “Stalling.” The performance was held in the intimate Parker Theater, and the simple setting and stage allowed for the talent of the student actors and the message of each scene to resonate with the audience, which was was comprised of not only New Paltz students, but also members of the community who were welcomed by the Fresh Act team.

The scenes performed during the hour-long showcase dealt with a range of topics that are relevant in today’s society. “It’s Not Real,” written by fourth-year theatre performance major Kayla Pereira, was inspired by her personal struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

“As someone who has OCD, it was important for me to show people what obsessive-compulsive thoughts looked like, which is where I got the idea to turn ‘anxiety’ into a character,” Pereira said. 

The character representing “anxiety” constantly followed around and nagged the scene’s main character, telling her that catastrophic, horrible events would take place if even the slightest thing was out of place. Another scene centered around a relevant topic was “Trophy,” written by first-year adolescence education major Dakota Rose, which was about the sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry that has become all too familiar in recent years.

Not all scenes dealt with serious topics, however. “Hedge Pruners,” the second scene performed, was written by fourth-year history and English major Scout Mercer and inspired by “dad culture.” It was an accurate portrayal of a friendly conversation turned argument between two men doing yard work, as they each found out the other was sleeping with their wife. The piece was a standout of the night, and the outstanding comedic timing of the actors left the audience in hysterics.

As the performance came to a close, the Fresh Act producers thanked those in attendance and urged new members to participate in Spring 2018 as a final round of applause was given for all the talented students who participated in any way.