The Playwrights’ Circle and the Work in Progress Improv team presented their first show, the Anti-Valentine’s Day Play Festival, on February 13 and 14. The four playwrights showcased their original plays, combining humor with their opinions about Valentine’s Day and relationships.
Sarah Cho, Film and Media Studies and Theater playwriting double major at UC Santa Barbara, explained the reason for this production.
“Because of the budget cuts to the Theater department’s playwriting program, the four of us screenwriters formed this organization to showcase our original work. We wanted to get feedback on our work and to get our voices heard through our pieces and the actors’ performances,” Cho said.
After wishing everyone an “unhappy Valentine’s Day,” the show commenced with Lina Aldana’s play Peanut Butter Hearts. In this play, a couple decides to break up on Valentine’s Day because they realize that they are both using each other just for the sake of being in a relationship and to feel special about themselves when giving gifts or receiving them.
The actors portrayed how easy it is for people to fall into the illusion that Valentine’s Day is special because of the media’s hype. The actors’ performances complemented each other very well overall, producing humorous insight into the clichés of the Hallmark Holiday.
Following Peanut Butter Hearts was Sarah Cho’s production Love First/Love Hurts in which a young girl, Liz, is desperately chasing after a boy named Bear. The play revealed many opinions about love, including that perspective that relationships are created rather than naturally formed.
Both actors made excellent use of stage props. Liz (Kelsey Long) showed her character’s playfulness and flirtatiousness by playing with a volleyball and by dancing around with an umbrella, and Bear (Jengis Marifet) threatened Liz with a gun in order to show that his objections to her were serious.
Jengis Marifet, a UCSB fourth-year Film Studies major, revealed his inspiration to take on the role of his character Bear.
“I once broke up with a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, so that motivated me for this part. I hate Valentine’s Day,” Marifet said.
Instead of an intermission, UCSB’s new improvisation team Work in Progress took over the stage. Their performance included interactive improv games such as “freeze tag” and “185.” The team’s quick, witty responses greatly amused the audience.
Edrick Sarkissian, UCSB second-year Film and Media studies major, explained the reasons he loves being in Work in Progress.
“In improv, you can do anything you want and get away with it and it brings so many funny people together. I like doing this fun stuff with my friends and like the people it introduces me to,” Sarkissian said.
After the improv, the plays continued with Three Doors by Karen Urrutia-Mickler. The play tells the story of a girl, Carey (Mariah Goolsby), who is stood up by her boyfriend (Fernando) at a concert they were supposed to attend together for her birthday. Upset by this, she breaks up with him because she feels that she is the only person putting effort into their relationship while he forgets about their plans.
The performance showed how easily—and perhaps how often—couples fall out of love because of unequal contributions to the relationship. Though Goolsby’s, performance outshone that of her co-star, Chris Soriano-Palma, together they provided an entertaining show.
The showcase ended with Monica Trausch’s Cupid’s Arrow which put an interesting twist on the story of Cupid. In the play, Cupid is a grown woman with wings who is on a date with Andrew, a comical environment-freak dressed in a colorful, hippie- like poncho.
In addition to the lively costumes, the set was also very well designed, including a table with a pink tablecloth to set a “lovey-dovey” atmosphere.
While sipping on beer, the drunken Cupid speaks about how she hates her job and how she doesn’t know if she believes in love but still wants to be in love. After accidentally pricking herself with her magical arrow, she herself finds the love she was looking for within herself. She realizes that she can be happy on her own because she, in fact, is love.
Cupid’s Arrow relayed the message that everyone—even though they may not have the power to make other people fall in love—should be content with him or herself, even if he/she is not in a romantic relationship.
Jacqueline Avis, UCSB first-year Computer Engineering major, thought that the plays were insightful but also a bit sad.
“The plays did give me a new perspective on how people who aren’t in relationships think about Valentine’s Day,” Avis said, “I never knew there was so much cynicism about love. But the improv team was hilarious. I would go to another one of their shows.”
The Playwrights’ Circle has an upcoming production of one acts, and Work in Progress’ will be performing a comedy show on Wednesday, March 2 at 8 p.m. at UCSB’s Multicultural Center.