Dramarama is the title of a popular class at UNR, taught by longtime theater professor Dr. Bob Dillard. The course prepares students to organize, act in and direct their own plays, an effot also known as Dramarama. It’s like a workshop for theater students, according to 24-year-old McKenzi Swinehart, that culminates in a weekend full of dramas and comedies.
The student-directors choose pre-written scripts, hold auditions, do callbacks, hold second auditions and then pick which actors they want. They’re also responsible for executing any technical direction.
“We all have to have a certain number of actors, so we [the directors] all barter and trade for actors,” says Swinehart. “It’s kind of funny.”
From there, the director and actors design props, rehearse the play and await the end of the semester, when all the plays run for one weekend at Redfield Studio Theatre on campus.
Some directors chose dramatic plays. Others chose comedies. (Keep in mind students don’t write the scripts.) While not professional grade, Dramarama is worth the $5 cover for the intense look into the making of the craft and the behind-the-scenes glimpses the audience gets.
Eight directors each put on a short play.
Among this year’s highlights, Hidden in This Picture, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Swinehart, is a play about an overly stressed movie director, Robert (Ryan Palomo), and his crew. They’re trying their best to shoot a film about the Vietnam War and the many nuisances of shooting on location.
Robert’s partner, a sarcastically funny Jeff (Nick Azua) helps coordinate between Robert and his ditzy assistant, Kate (Maggie Jenson).
During the final scene of the play, three cows walk into the shot, apparently ruining it. This sends Robert into frenzy. He then tries to convince Jeff that the cows, in fact, look like tanks.
An image of Tiananmen Square comes to mind—but with cows.
It ends with the Jeff convincing Robert that the cows make the ending to the movie great.
So much for a writer’s strike.
Smoking Lessons, written by Julia Jordan and directed by Sarah Potts, is about three 15-year-old girls and the ghost of their friend. Thomas Delaney (Michael Tunseth) is an older boy who harasses the girls and is responsible for the dead girl’s demise.
In order to free the ghost, the girls do a series of rituals that leads to a brief, entertaining, scene of them spinning around in their underwear screaming.
Tare (Hana Freeman) falls in love with Delaney and asks him to run away with her. A sexy and funny Mary Kate (Kristen Micharlsen) and Lisa Ann (Kara McNally) try to convince Tare not to—but their worries soon change when they find out disturbing news about Delaney.
The Adventures of Captain Neato-Man!, written by Timothy Harris and directed by theater student Emily Anderson, is about as funny as it gets.
Neato-Man’s mother (Angela Sonner) lures Larry (Patrick Laffoon) into things by posting a job ad as a typist. Once he responds, she continually attempts to seduce him
Neato-Man (Chris Whitcomb), geared in tights and a cape, attempts to convince Larry that it is his destiny to become his sidekick, Horatio.
When Larry tries to leave, Neato-Man and his mother interrogate him.
“Commie!” they yell at him.
Neato-Man’s obscure dialog and superhero stance is balanced by Larry’s normalcy and droll responses.
Neato-Man’s mother is supportive, always there to sing “Dunt-duh-duh-duh” when Neato-Man says his name, superhero style.
Before Larry leaves, Trixy (Hilary Bernius), Horatio’s childhood sweetheart, comes along to seduce Larry—adding another twisted twist to the plot.
Perfect comedic timing, funny sexual references and great acting from the whole team make this play damned funny and a good capper for the Dramarama series.