Students take turn at directing in Theatre Festival

Lily Martis

Serious and reflective, comedic and ironic —  a small group of Kent State undergraduate students will take audience members through a range of emotions this weekend at the Student Theatre Festival.

Directed and compiled by two student directors, the festival will feature two short plays, which will take place in the EZ Black Box Theatre Friday, April 11, through Sunday, April 13.

“Student Theatre Fest is a series of works that rely entirely on student participation,” said Tim Welsh, a senior  theater studies major. “There is no creative faculty input — it’s all the students.”

Under the direction of Welsh, the festival will open with Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus.” Welsh and his cast of nine will present Marlowe’s play at 7 p.m. April 11 and at 7 p.m. April 13.

“‘Dr. Faustus’ is about a scholar who sells his soul to the devil for 24 years of bliss and fame,” Welsh said.

Faustus, the leading role, will be portrayed by Jackson Sturkey, a senior theater studies major.

“Dr. Faustus sees how all of us struggle with the idea of salvation, in particular, what we are willing to do to gain knowledge,” Sturkey said. “John Faustus is first and foremost in every man.”

Through his journey, Faustus is visited by the demon Mephastophilis, seeking to damn him. Mephastophilis is portrayed by Matthew J. Wheeler, a senior theatre studies major.

“One of the big challenges for embodying Mephastophilis was to find motivation for him that people could understand,” Wheeler said. “In my own opinion, a villain who is evil just to be evil isn’t really interesting. He should make the audience feel a little bit dirty.”

Additionally, Wheeler is directing “Beyond Therapy” by Christopher Durang.

Wheeler and his cast of six will present Durang’s play at 7 p.m. April 12 and at 2 p.m. April 13.

According to Wheeler, “Beyond Therapy” follows a man and a woman who meet through a personal ad per their therapists’ orders. Despising each other at first, the couple tries to make it work as they continually find their way back to each other.

“Will you find hidden sentiments in ‘Beyond Therapy’? Sure,” Wheeler said. “After all, theater is a powerful medium, and it would be wasteful not to share our ideas in it, but at the end of the day, we want you to enjoy the time you spend with us.”

The festival is held annually during the spring semester. Admission to each performance is free, and no tickets are required.

Contact Lily Martis at [email protected].