Back to life, back to reality at the Second Stage West production of 'The End'

Since the beginning of time, humans have wondered about a possible afterlife, and what it means for us here on Earth. Short, sweet and to the point, ASU West's production of "One Acts (Part 3): The End" at Second Stage West aims to explore these questions and prove quality beats quantity.

This weekend's performances are continuing the production of one-act plays produced by ASU faculty member, professor Charles St. Clair that began in the fall semester 2015. 

An Emmy Award-winning producer, director and actor, St. Clair has a resume to rival the best of the best. He teaches a variety of courses in interdisciplinary arts and performance and is the technical director for the Division of Humanities Arts and Cultural Studies in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the West campus.

"IAP is so much different than normal theatre departments," St. Clair said. "There’s nothing like it in the world." 

He explained that in many productions at the West campus, there are students with a variety of different backgrounds aside from just theater. He explained that regular theater departments are limited to only students within that major whereas IAP allows access to "anyone who loves it." 

This third event is entitled "The End" in which two plays will be performed. One is the comedy "Bobby Gould in Hell" by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and director David Mamet, and the other is the drama "No Exit" by Nobel Prize winner Jean-Paul Sartre

Each production has an overall theme, and the plays performed are selected accordingly. The previous two productions were "In the Car" (featuring one-act plays that took place in a car) and "In the Theatre" (featuring one-act plays that took place in a a theater). Each show usually has about four actors, students and non-students alike.

Kailey Mattheisen, an interdisciplinary arts and sciences senior, said it can be difficult to balance out a busy rehearsal schedule with being a full-time academic student. With three part-time jobs, 12 credits and the role of stage manager in this installment of "One Acts," she said it's important for her to prioritize. Luckily, however, she added that faculty were almost always understanding. 

"Theater has become such an integral part of my life," Mattheisen said. "When you love something you make it a priority."

Mattheisen also said that a lack of resources is sometimes another difficulty in which the West campus productions face in comparison to those of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. However, she maintained that the productions are still extremely successful.

"It does seem like the Tempe campus tends to have more resources, but our plays are a lot more intimate and personal," she said. 

IAP junior Elle Broeder also described these shorter productions as "attention-span friendly."  

"People sometimes say that long plays are boring," Broeder said. "These plays are really funny and compelling." 

As a producer and actress (playing the role of Inez in "No Exit" and the assistant in "Bobby Gould In Hell") in the production, Broeder said it is fun to switch between roles and get hands-on experience. She also said that these productions provide a variety of knowledge for students that they won't gain elsewhere. 

"There’s no way that you can just read about something like this." she said. 

IAP senior Maximillian Cano said that he thinks audiences will truly enjoy the one-act productions as much as the actors do because of how engaging the shorter plays are. 

"It allows the audience to get multiple stories," he said. "(It's) good because it always keeps the audience fresh with the new stories."

Cano is a theater veteran, having made his stage debut as a middle schooler, and has been in all the previous one-act productions this school year. He is playing the role of the Valet in "No Exit" as well as working backstage.

He said he also hopes that attendees of the show will appreciate the message as well. Both plays explore the ideas of how humans interact, how we should treat others and how we reflect on these things once it's too late.

"We have to think about how we treat others and ourselves while we’re alive, not just when we’re dead," Cano said. "People only think about what they’ve done after they’ve passed on."

Cano said he hopes that audience members walk away with a newfound respect for the theater, especially smaller productions. 

"You can have something amazing even if it's on a small scale," he said. 

The show will take place April 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and April 10 at 3 p.m. at the Second Stage on the ASU West campus.

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Reach the reporter at nlilley@asu.edu or follow her @noelledl on Twitter.

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