CUNY Theatre Festival 2018
As CUNY students and New Yorkers we have so many artistic pathways open to us a short walk or a subway ride away. For example, the CUNY Theatre Festival, presented by The Department of Theatre and Speech at City College is a day and evening of Theatre education and exploration. The day was full of workshops and panels for students interested in all facets of Theatre: from acting, to technical work, to writing and scholarship. After a catered dinner, the festival presented a Ten-Minute Play Festival, featuring ten plays written, directed by, and starring CUNY students.
Playwrights from various CUNY schools submitted their plays. Those chosen for the festival were given to directors from different schools who then cast and produced the pieces. The plays were entirely student driven, something truly unique to CUNY. This festival allowed students to actively participate in creating new work with the infrastructure of City College’s Theatre Department. It can be incredibly difficult to self-produce work as a student; it is often expensive and time consuming and an audience is never guaranteed. For this evening, however City College gave students the resources to mount their work and opened the lines of communication with artists from different schools.
As a playwright for the festival I had the opportunity to sit in the audience for my own work. A short play that I had written as an assignment for a Playwriting class last semester was brought to life by a director and cast from La Guardia Community College. It was such a neat experience, one that I had not anticipated having while still pursuing my undergraduate degree. So often when making our own work in classes it is limited to being strictly theoretical, that maybe the work could become a living piece of Theatre, but not until some indeterminate date far off in the future. It was a small taste of how magical creating Theatre can be and a reminder of how necessary a community is to creation and production, especially of new works.
Some of the biggest hurdles for Theatre students wanting to make their own art is the requirement of networking when you are still establishing your career and the cost of production. For this event City College assumed the cost and connected artists from other schools. This is a rare and special opportunity open to CUNY students, especially those with the hopes of working in the professional Theatre. Although the festival for this year is over I highly recommend students submitting work in the future.