Freak Showcase

Our New Play Spectacular

Undergraduate Theater festival

Arthur Wagner Theatre

May 27 TO june 5

Two ordinary actors lug a pile of ordinary clothes onto the ordinary stage of the Arthur Wagner Theatre. But once you learn they’ve got a prostitute inside the pile, it’s clear that undergraduate theater festival “Our New Play Spectacular,” will be anything but ordinary.

Currently in its seventh year, the festival showcases UCSD’s riskiest talent in the form of playwrites, actors and directors. Altogether, over 40 undergraduates translate student-penned pieces from page to stage in what artistic director and Marshall College senior Spencer Howard described as “replicating life at a heightened level.”

The fest is composed of four plays, categorized by theme. Showcase A dwells on the apocalypse in “Acid Rain” and “Freak Show,” while Showcase B dabbles in entrapment with “Animal Animal” and “Wigs.”

In “Wigs,” salacious protagonist Lulu talks in verse amid a chaotic wreckage of clothing, caution tape, toilet paper rolls and a Barbie doll. Over her corseted bridal gown, Lulu sports a Marilyn Monroe screen T, offset by a Lady Gaga-inspired noose of hair around her neck. The costume is a juxtaposition of 18th-century pomp against modern pop culture, a la Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” — the noose serving as an extension of the entrapment theme.

For all their allusions to the past, the pieces in the festival balance their nostalgia by diving into current affairs. “Animal” explores the cellar lives of the wife and children of Josef “rapist of his own daughter, who he kept in a basement” Fritzl, while Howard’s “American Apparel” profiles the titular company’s CEO Dov Charney — whose free-trade business standards parallel his equally liberal sex life. To explore the character of a man who Howard calls an “eccentric and hedonistic type of person,” the play centers on Charney’s nonplussed director of communications, who confronts Charney with an article in “Jane” magazine that describes him walking around his office naked and masturbating while being interviewed.

Howard said he had no difficulty translating the imagery to stage.

“If the storytelling on the page is engaging, then it would be difficult to lose that when you’re doing it on stage,” he said.

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