Students across the state submitted their one act plays in January, and six 10-minute productions were selected to be a part of this year’s festival July 26-28, now in its third year running. Students also direct and act in the productions.
Ahmad Moghadam, author of "Wrinkle of Shock," one of six chosen from about 20 submissions, said Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wrote in the magical realism genre, and his novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" inspired him to write “Wrinkle of Shock,” which is about a family and a missing father.
“I wanted to approach that same genre, but bring it to the theater,” Moghadam said.
Kate Tillotson, scholarship and foundation special events coordinator for the nonprofit Educational Foundation at Oakton Community College, helped organize and produce the festival. Proceeds from "Play On" ticket sales support the Oakton Performing Arts Scholarship Fund. Tillotson said the writing was particularly strong in this year’s selections.
“These plays were incredibly unique and innovative,” Tillotson said. “And we were all very impressed by the quality of the plays themselves.”
Tillotson said “Wrinkle of Shock” was a surreal play, almost absurdist, and reminded her of a script by the famous novelist, playwright and poet Samuel Beckett. It has an ambiguous ending that can be interpreted many different ways, Tillotson said.
“You usually don’t see that in student work,” Tillotson said.
Patti Interante, professor of speech and theater at Oakton Community College, selected the student directors and is supervising their productions.
“It’s a phenomenal experience in hands-on, doing the real deal from beginning to end,” Interante said. “And they are doing a great job.”
Tillotson said “Play On” was exciting because the audience sees original voices, talented students starting to hone their skills.
“I think everything is stronger [this year] and so it will be an even better production,” Tillotson said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
This is the first playwright festival to recognize Moghadam’s work, and will be the first to produce one of his plays. The young writer, who plans to pursue an English degree at a college in Illinois in the fall, said the experience has been very rewarding because he will have a chance to see his play produced, something not offered in other contests.
Moghadam said if he is going to make it as a professional writer, handing over creative control is something he’ll need to get more accustomed to.
“I have to have a kind of strength not to be so worried all the time,” Moghadam said. “I guess I have grown in that way, just hearing everyone else telling me not to worry has helped build up some of that tolerance I’m eventually going to need.”
One Act Plays of “Play On,” according to a press release from Oakton Community College:
“You Don’t Know My Mother” by Lucas Cellar, student at Oakton Community College. Is a mother’s approval more important than true love? Partners Harold and Washington search for the answer in this heartbreaking drama.
“Not Enough” by Arif Choudhury, student at Morton College in Cicero. In this emotional showdown, Shannon and Neal must choose between saving their relationship or saving themselves.
“Wrinkle of Shock” by Ahmad Moghadam, student at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights. Quirky and surreal, this absurdist comedy inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is sure to inspire.
“Trust Me” by Derek Newhouse, student at Oakton Community College. Deception, corruption and greed fuel this dark, philosophical play about three cops and a homeless man.
“The Other Side” by Ronald Denham, student at Oakton Community College. Separated by oceans and generations, Eckhard and Robert discover a surprising connection.
“Dear You” by Cassidy Reich, student at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake. Writing is one of the best ways to reveal feelings; but what happens when thoughts are only shared on paper?