PAC Presents a Festival of New Plays Showcasing Student Talent

In a theatre in the round, about 30 students in street garb gather in a semi-circle around an older woman giving directions
The full company of FRESH ACTS gathers in the Arena Theatre to begin the rehearsal process of six new student-written plays. (Photos by Jack Besterman)

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 12, 2022) — With a two-year pandemic finally relegated to the wings, UAlbany student actors and directors are retaking center stage in performance, bringing six fellow students’ plays to life.

The Theatre Program presents FRESH ACTS: A Festival of New Plays Wednesday to Saturday, April 20-23, with six public presentations at the Performing Arts Center (PAC). The schedule starts with 8 p.m. performances on both Wednesday and Thursday, followed by two performances on Friday, 3 and 10 p.m., and two more on Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.

2 student actors sit and study their scripts
Actors Godswill Utionkpan (left) and Ayele Brockington study their lines in "Before War," by Chioma Onwuka Ofodile.

This year’s festival presents readings of six one-act plays written, directed, and performed by 34 students under the mentorship of FRESH ACTS artistic director Kate Walat, associate professor in Music and Theatre and playwright-in-residence.

FRESH ACTS provides UAlbany playwrights with the opportunity to be in rehearsal with their new plays, as actors become the first to give voice to their characters and directors begin to envision the plays’ theatrical potential,” said Walat. “This year we’re thrilled to be able to return to in-person performance, enabling the playwrights to experience their new works together in the same room as audiences first take them in.”

Plays were chosen from a competitive, blind submission process, with the final selection made by Brooklyn-based playwright Amina Henry. Her play Interstate was featured last spring in the Authors Theatre series.

This year’s FRESH ACTS includes two different programs of plays, presented by two ensemble student casts. Program A will be presented on Wednesday at 8 p.m., Friday at 3 and Saturday at 2 and features Before War by Chioma Onwuka Ofodile, Sixty Seconds to Midnight by MJ Johnson and Emotional Assortment by Blakely Brown.

A female student actress laughs at something in the script she holds
Actor Jillian Sharp, sitting beside playwright Claire Dell-Priscoli (in purple) and director Rheonna Koss, enjoys a light moment while rehearsing "There Was a Dent Here, It’s Gone Now."

Performed on Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 10 and Saturday at 8, Program B will consist of Rehab by Kat Schermerhorn, Stormy Weather by Yetunde Babalola and There Was a Dent Here, It’s Gone Now by Claire Dell-Priscoli.

Twice in the past three years, plays that appeared in FRESH ACTS have gone on to be selected by the professional Albany-based theatre company Cap Rep, for its Next Act! festival. In the fall of 2020, two plays that had been part of FRESH ACTS went on to be fully produced with a faculty director in the Theatre Program’s New Works/New Ways.

Advance tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty/staff. Tickets purchased on the day of the show (pending availability) are $10 for the general public and $8 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty/staff. For reservations and further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997 or visit the Performing Arts Center website.