It’s a breath of fresh air to see student-run performances come together live on stage.
Fresh Act, a two-hour play showcase put together entirely by students, hit McKenna theatre Monday, May 7. The biannual production displayed the talents and treasures New Paltz theatre has to offer.
“I really enjoyed the show,” said second-year theatre major Grace Donato. “I think it’s great that New Paltz is so open to facilitating new art from young artists.”
The theatre extravaganza displayed 10 unique pieces, ranging from student-written works to scenes from famous plays such as “The Legend of Georgia McBride” and “The Totalitarians.” All the scenes had student actors and directors.
“I think our school has a lot of unnoticed creativity when it comes to directing and playwriting,” said third-year theatre major Kai Junn Lathrop. “It’s hard to display these skill sets without having a heavy strain on budget and scheduling conflicts with main stage and praxis shows.”
The pieces tackled themes such as gender, sexuality, death and love while being playful and moving. Each piece was around 10 minutes long, making the pacing fun and easy to keep up with.
“Fresh Act is such a valuable part of the theatre community here at New Paltz. It allows students a platform to share stories—and we are, if nothing else, storytellers—using their own creativity and discipline,” said performer and first-year theatre major Matthew Moment. “By nature, the show is able to touch on so many important topics, especially those underrepresented in other parts of our theatrical spheres.”
The special thing about Fresh Act is how it opens theatre up to more people. Shows with queer characters can take the stage and plots surrounding queer characters or people of color can be at the center of the show, instead of the background. This valuable aspect of Fresh Act adds depth and inclusivity that is often lost in the mainstream.
The various scenes alternated between inciting laughter or tears. The dedicated actors gave it their all in evoking strong emotions in the viewers.
“I think the most important thing for me was for the light-hearted yet serious and painful relationship of my character and her partner to transfer onstage,” said performer and second-year theatre major Ifeoma Ukatu. “Their relationship started off as fun and fiesty but sadly, my character’s husband passed away from drug overdose. It’s really just highlighting the memories they shared, both playful and painful, and I really wanted to help share this real experience.”
Fresh Act went off without a hitch and as the show closed, two new producers were announced in lieu of two graduating producers. Kayla Jones and Natalya Malarczuk will be replacing Mads Leigh-Faire Morgan and Raine Grayson next year.
“I think the thing that continues to strike me about Fresh Act is how a student run production leads to stories being told that wouldn’t be told anywhere else,” said director and second year creative writing and WGSS major William Ballner. “These are our stories, our voices, our ideas being melded into what turned into something amazing.”