Students Call the Shots

Short Plays with SIPA

  • Photo Marija Djordjevic

There’s a festival going on at Concordia this weekend, tucked in the back room of the Loyola Chapel basement.

The theatre department’s Student Initiated Production Assignments (SIPA) class will be performing their short plays in the Cazalet Studio this March 8-11 for a Fringe Fest-style weekend.

“As an audience member you get to bounce around all different kinds of shows,” said Vanessa Nostbakken, performer and co-creator of the SIPA play In Memorium.

“And it’s a great opportunity for students to see what the theatre department does. People put a lot hard of work into these shows. And it’s really affordable, only two dollars.”

The SIPAs give students the opportunity to have complete creative control of their work. The plays are written, directed, designed, and performed by students.

“SIPA originally was conceived as such so that any student, regardless of the department, could participate in it,” said SIPA coordinator Marija Djordjevic. “But it happens really rarely.”

Greedy Graffiti is one show that includes students from the John Molson School of Business. Djordjevic said that _Graffiti_’s creator had the show on her mind for nearly four years, seeking out personality types to match the roles she created.

Djordjevic reviewed the proposals, interviewed students, and then submitted her recommendations to the head of the department for approval. She said that the interviews were an important component in choosing who was ready to take part.

“People may seem really solid and then when the time comes, they freak out,” Djordjevic said. “It’s hard. I look for passion because it will get you through. If you believe in your proposal, and what you want to do, it will give you courage and strength to push through stressful times. It will let you engage your team to work better.”

Djordjevic was also looking for variety; and the four shows in the festival range from very realistic to abstract. She mentioned Anonymous Sin as an interesting one-man show with two roles – a man and a woman who never speak to each other.

Naomi in the Livingroom is the one play not written by a Concordia student but by well-known playwright, Christopher Durang. The show describes itself as, “A family reunion from hell. 15 minutes of clown, comedy, and masochism.”

The students who wrote their own shows had to be on both sides of the process, as writer and actor, a challenge for theatre students whose primary training is in acting.

“When we’re writing we’re trying to think of it from an acting perspective, so it’s really difficult that way,” Nostbakken said. “When you’re not working with a set script you’re worried that your peers won’t see it the same way you want them too because you’re not working with that outside eye.”

Dealing with the creative and technical aspects of bringing their shows to the stage, the participating theatre students get an understanding of what they can expect when they graduate and start producing their own shows.

And for the audience Djordjevic said, “The shows are short, they’re fun, and they’re very varied. Everyone who comes will see something they like.”

SIPA Short Works Festival / March 8-11 / Cazelet Theatre (7141 Sherbrooke St. W) / $2 students/$5 regular More Info

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