CSU’s One Act Festival features student-led theater

Claire Oliver

A small black box theater can get a little crowded with limited seating and the lack of a physical stage. 

The audience in the Large Acting Lab at the University Center for the Arts did not seem to mind having to stand or sit on the floor during the second-annual One Act Festival at CSU.  The performances at the festival, spanning from Nov. 30 until Dec. 2, featured performances that were all lead, directed and performed by students.   

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Producer of the Second Annual CSU One-Act Festival Sydney Fleischman getting ready to announce awards for Best Actress.

The festival was organized by junior performance major Sydney Fleishman.  She was involved last year when the festival was little more than a senior thesis by graduate Mason Weiss. Fleishman decided to carry on the tradition, she said. 

Fleishman worked with her adviser, Laura Jones, on the project. Now involvement in the festival is a requirement for Jones’ directing class, she said. 

Two directors directed each 10-minute play. Students performed published plays along with some that students wrote.

Jake Cuddemi wrote one of the plays and acted in two of the one acts.  He received the award for best actor.  Cuddemi is an advocate for student productions because it gives students the opportunity to do things they may not have tried before, he said.  

“I feel like as a performer I can worker more effectively with a director because I have had experience as the director,” said the junior majoring in theatre performance. “And I feel like having that understanding and appreciation for what goes on on the other side has helped me to grow as a performer as well.” 

Winner of Best Actor and Best Actress, Jake Cuddemi and Charlotte Nickell during the Second Annual CSU One-Act Play Festival.
CJ Johnson|Collegian

During the first two days, there were five plays performed each night.    

Three judges, whom Fleishman selected, chose the final three plays. The judges were Eric Prince, a theater professor at CSU; Judith Allen, the artistic director for OpenStage, a local theater company in Fort Collins; and Emelie Borello, a professor at CSU.  The judges not only selected the best overall one act but the best actor and actress and the best directors.  They also gave special credit to students who showed great promise for the pieces they had created.

Richard Keesling was one of the finalists with his adaptation of Robert Frost’s “Home Burial.”  The performance used white lighting and extreme contrasts between the sizes of the two actors on stage.  Keesling adapted the play from the Frost’s poem after having read it in class.  

“It was nice to see the characters come alive from the page and walk around the space,” said the senior theater major.

“It was nice to see the characters come alive from the page and walk around the space,” said the senior theater major.

Full Cast and Crew of the Second Annual CSU One-Act Play Festival.
CJ Johnson|Collegian

The other finalists were “She Loves Me Not,” directed by Andrew Jacques and Dylan Monti and “Hospitality,” directed by Bruce Gammonley and Jake Richardson.  Students wrote all three of the finalist plays. During the final night of the festival, the top three acts were performed again. 

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One Act Festival winners: 

Best actress: Charlotte Nickel, “Home Burial”

Best Actor: Jake Cuddemi, “She Loves Me Not” and “Hospitality”

Best Director(s): Andrew Jacques and Dylan Monti, “She Loves Me Not”

Best Overall Play: “Hospitality,” written by student Sonny Walls and directed by Bruce Gammonley and Jake Richardson

Collegian reporter Claire Oliver can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @claire_oliver21