As the lights of the theater dimmed, high school students from all around the Bay Area came to the stage to present their annual Teen One-Act Festival, a production put on by the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre every year. The show features high school students in every role, allowing teens to get the full theater experience. From the playwrights to the producer, only teens were allowed to audition for the One-Act plays. Two such teens were Castro Valley juniors named Maya Para and Anna Talajkowski.
The One-Acts program is designed to bring teens together from different parts of the Bay Area and teach them about theater. Giving every role to teens gives them the unique experience of forming their own play without adult interference,” said Para.
The first play was written by Chloe Christina Smith and featured Alexander Panagos as the main character Allen. Allen, a middle aged man with no family or friends, is visited by Death, played by Maya Para. While pleading for his life, she allows him five days to live out his bucket list, and at completion, he won’t be taken to the afterlife.
Unfortunately, at the end of his list he fails, and as Death comes to greet him, he knows he will be taken away. When Death and Allen finally arrive at hell, he realizes he is in his own home again. As Death leaves, he is left to realize that his life had been hell before he had even departed.
The second play was based in a 1930s hotel. Lead actor David Kaus played a bellboy who quickly became attached to an older woman who was staying at the hotel with her daughter. Only trying to help, he intrudes and soon becomes involved in a cloud of mysteries. Finally, at the end he realizes the extraordinary wealth the old woman has in possession, but it is too late. The daughter kills her mother in order to receive her portion of the will, only to learn the old woman has left everything to the bell boy.
The Teen One-Acts festival will be featured again to all students who wish to audition next year. The Berkeley Rep School of Theatre will also be featuring other programs throughout the year.
“I think people should support theater,” said Para. “Not only the Teen One-Acts, but our school arts program as well.”