The UBC Players Club’s 2022 Festival Dionysia ran from March 9 to 12. The sold-out event included six one-act plays, all of which were written and directed by UBC students.
The plays were performed in a small room with no more than 40 seats. Because of the small size of the theatre, every seat allowed an intimate proximity to the stage. All actors — excluding one — performed with face masks on. Most plays tried to bring out meta-theatricality through dialogue, though not all of the attempts were equally successful due to the small-scale nature of the production.
The first play, Lifecycle, was written by Madeline Montgomery and focused on hustle and grind culture. With a humorous script and an aptly constructed set, Lifecycle had a lot of potential. However, the music was a little too loud over the dialogue, which meant that the characters were difficult to hear at times. Nevertheless, Lifecycle was an enjoyable play.
Lifecycle was followed by Shared Space, written by Amelia Brooker. The play revolved around, you guessed it, a shared space occupied by three college-going roommates and their complicated social lives. The play comments on various topics such as theatre majors, The Secret History lovers and people with podcasts. The ending was inconclusive, but the play was entertaining nonetheless.
The next play, Dark Academia, written by Janna Zeid, was a commentary on the hectic academic and social life of university students. The furniture and costumes were very *dark academia* but it was difficult to understand what the play was about at times due to quick shifting between the scenes.
After a ten-minute intermission, Leftover by Mia Zhu began. The play dealt with the intergenerational trauma of women in a Chinese household across three generations. While the youngest generation strove to be on par with her peers, her mother and grandmother remind her of the hardships they faced. The play was exceptionally well-written and beautifully choreographed. The story was neatly embedded within Chinese culture and the set design and costumes were a major aid to the storyline.
The next play was Sometimes I Feel Like I Am Not Even Me by Caryn Chew. The play explored the relationship between a nurse and a patient (and their pre-existing relationship) bringing their complex and hilarious personalities to life. The dialogue brought out meta-theatricality, with the nurse talking directly to the audience. Some lines were not as clearly delivered as others, but overall the play was short and funny.
The festival ended with Sana With A Smile/Operation Rosy Tint by Maheem Kumar Bista and centred on human insecurities regarding romantic relationships. The play was more interactive than others with cue cards for the audience to react with and choreographed dances. The experimental parts such as giving a banana a lead role worked well in adding to the humour but the use of cue cards was a bit much at times for the small setting.
The two-hour show made for better entertainment than watching heartfelt comedies on Netflix (alone). It was a great way to connect with fellow students and see people's different backgrounds and skills reflected in their work. The efforts put in by the crew and the actors were visible and made the event so wonderful.