Theatre Western's Purple Shorts opened to a supportive and buzzing crowd last week in The Wave. Showcasing six one-act plays, the festival featured student-made work and talent ranging from acting, directing, stage managing and more.
Purple Shorts co-producer Alexandrea Gaistman described the festival as black box theatre, the rawest form of the discipline using simple props and strong acting to deliver a well-crafted story.
Dividing the festival between two nights, Feb. 14 and 15, the first night debuted work from Theatre Western fall play favourite Jack Copland, Niklaus Buchowski and Tory Wiley.
Copland's play A Bed Time Story was a simple premise: three students participating in a group interview for a retail job, only to walk out in protest of banal jobs.
It was a decent beginning to the festival as fellow veterans Sasha Luna and Spencer Chaisson drove the play home. They were polar opposites and played their characters well, obviously very comfortable and aware of Copland's vision for his one-act play.
We're All Okay played next, a beautiful discussion on loss following the death of a best friend and fellow student at a university.
Wiley's writing and Marissa Racco's direction led the festival into the gut wrenching reality of this story being shared by many others on campus following the deaths of students within the past two years. It was heartfelt and deep, proving that brilliant writing lives on this campus and in Purple Shorts.
Buchowski's Madmen lightened the mood offering comedic relief to end off the first night of the festival. Peeking into the lives of government officials trying to prevent a popular rapper from entering Canada, Madmen was a hilarious and original one-act exceptionally executed by all around acting, directing and writing.
Hailey Hill, Purple Shorts co-producer, opened up night two featuring plays from the talented Camille Intson, Emily Wood and power team Emma Phillips and Billie Fishleigh.
Intson's The Boy Who Bled showed the growing pains of being a teenage boy through retrospection and symbolism. Lead actor Mitchell Reed held the play together and heightened the suspense of an unknown accident resulting in blood splattered on his body but twist ending was hard to comprehend.
Boulders, written by Wood, was simple and heavy — literally. Witnessing the progression of an anxiety attack, Wood and lead actress Michaela Caraballo flexed their skills to everyone in attendance.
Wood's writing was strong, captivating and utterly real and Caraballo's authenticity was tangible. A marvellous one-act play that was clean, to the point and unapologetically truthful. A standout in the festival.
Finally, Purple Shorts ended with a bang with Phillip and Fishleigh's The Auditions. Playing off of DC comic characters, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman sit down for an open call audition recruiting new superheroes to the Justice League. Simply put, it was hilarious.
Special credits go to Ray Reid and Kristopher Kalhs for their charming performances, clear fan favourites by the end of the show.
All in all, the festival was a success. Garnering a large crowd and filling The Wave, Purple Shorts not only touched those in attendance but also set a high bar for future festival applicants.
With strong writers and talented players willing to bring a writer's vision to life, it's apparent that Purple Shorts has a bright future with potential for a larger stage, greater budget and more plays in the coming years.