The annual THIRDeYE Theatre Festival, presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance, features works that are written, directed and staged by mostly UC Davis undergraduate students. This year’s line-up includes “Empty All the Boxes,” “Fools Afloat” and “The Blue Jay’s Song” and will be performed on Jan. 27 through Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Each back-to-back play will draw from similar themes of life and death and the search for meaning.
“Empty All the Boxes,” written by senior Jazz Trice and directed by senior Tasha Cooke, follows a young deviant who begins to have visions of his deceased grandfather. Emotions of regret, brokenness and appreciation of life centralize Trice’s play.
“It’s very deep and goes places some of us might not want to go when dealing with death, our family and deceased relatives – but it’s also really funny, contemporary and has a lot of nods to pop culture and mainstream ways of speaking and communication,” Trice said.
Themes of life and death, love, family and redemption surface throughout the play and are reflective of Trice’s own personal life and recent death of his grandfather.
“It was written as an outlet for my frustration with things going on in my life years ago that no longer exist,” Trice said. “It’s difficult acting in this play as well because it’s very personal and puts me in certain scenarios that almost mirror things that have happened to me.”
“Some lines are taken word for word from my life and there’s an immediate fear with something like this being put out in the open for everyone to see. But I think it’s necessary that these things be said for myself and others.”
The second act, “Fools Afloat,” is written by Kristopher Ide and directed by Olufunmilayo Alabi. Paul, a young man discovers what it takes to have a quality relationship with his girlfriend Francesca. While dealing with the death of his father, he is also coping with distance and lack of presence in his relationship. These trials take him to another world where he finds himself on a boat with Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Hitler and his father.
“I would hope that my little play would be kind of a parable, an object lesson about the folly of despair in the face of death,” Ide said.
“Fools Afloat” draws from Ide’s personal experience of losing his father a couple years ago.
“I don’t believe that death is an end to be feared but simply a transition to something else, some other form of existence,” Ide said. “But for the living left behind, it’s still necessary to come to a place of acceptance and understanding.”
In the play, Paul confronts the spirit of his father as an act of redemption.
“Some of the people in the audience will have probably lost someone very close to them,” Ide said. “If I can show them a character that is going through what they felt [who] is able to transcend those feelings and find joy and an appreciation for the friends and family still around, then maybe they’ll be able to do the same in their lives.”
In “The Blue Jay’s Song,” written by Daniel Jordan and directed by Bill Macinnis, Isaac, a man who is portrayed by three actors on stage, searches for meaning in his life by trying to find his mother.
The entire play stems from different life lessons that extend from Jordan’s life as a transfer student.
“In my first quarter here at Davis, I was feeling like three different people doing three different things – what I wanted, what I needed and who was I,” Jordan said. “I didn’t know what I was doing, what journey to take and I didn’t know what my end goal was. I derived the play from the fact that I didn’t feel like a single person.”
The THIRDeYE Theatre Festival has allowed students like Jordan to put their plays into production while in their undergraduate studies.
“As a writer, I don’t think there’s any better way to learn what does and doesn’t work on stage than by participating in this festival,” Ide said.
The festival will continue from Jan. 27-31. Tickets will be $10 for students and $14 for general admission. For more information about THIRDeYE or to purchase tickets, visit theatredance.ucdavis.edu.
KAREN SONG can be reached at email@example.com.