November 26, 2021

New One-Acts to debut

Festival tonight and Saturday at Cortland High

Katie Keyser/contributing photographer

From left, players in “Bug’s New Job,” at Cortland High, are Lily Jenna, Kelly Diescher Haley, Izzy Mendez, Nick DeRado (with Bug, the puppet) and Michael Williams. All are students at Cortland High, which is presenting its 20th annual Student Written One Act Play Festival tonight. Below is Conley Egnor, another student in the show, in a critical moment.

Olivia McKenna is seeing her drama about first love come to light on Cortland High School’s stage in the Student Written One-Act Play Festival.

The 10th-grade student wrote and directed “Out of Luck, Out of Love,” for the event, now in its 20th year.

“For mine, I took a lot of emotions during a break up I experenced and developed a play about what it’s like to be a teenager with a first break up,” McKenna said.

“The first love is new and exciting,” she said. “You learn about yourself. You learn about people … It’s like a new part of your life once you start dating.”

As for seeing her play on stage:
“It’s a little scary because it’s some of my emotions,” she said. “And it’s fun. You get to experience directing a show. I think my peers are doing an awesome job with my show. There’s a sense of pride, too.”

McKenna’s piece is one of five original plays that will debut 7 p.m. today and again 2 p.m. Saturday.

“Different pieces are falling into place,” said Demmarie Boreland, who was advising the students Tuesday. “This is our first night with lighting. I am excited to see that.”

Boreland is a Cortland High graduate and playwright who’s shows are regularly featured in the Cortland Youth Bureau Summer Drama Program.

“We have an incredible bunch of writers, actors and directors,” she said. “I am excited for the public to see all these talented students we have at Cortland High School.”

Sophomore Hunter Sherman and junior Conley Egnor cowrote and co-directed “With Age.”

“It’s great,” Sherman said. “It’s about four old ladies.”

“And their shenanigans,” Egnor added.

“They have been through a lot,” Sherman said. “Joyce has World War II flashbacks. Agnes has a ouiji board and is kind of demonic.”

“We pulled this whole thing together in one day,” Egnor said. “With revisions,” said Sherman.

Senior citizens will find the show hysterical, Sherman said.

The One-Acts

• “Out of Luck, Out of Love,” written and directed by Olivia McKenna follows a teenage girl through heartbreak, and her friends’ struggle to help her through it.
• “Snow in Venice,” written by Tara McMahon and directed by McMahon and Jeff Glave is the story of a man forced to choose between the family he loves and everything he’s ever dreamed about.
• “With Age,” written and directed by Conley Egnor and Hunter Sherman is an offbeat comedy about four elderly women in Wrinkled Prunes Old Folks Home.
• “And So I Stayed,” written by McMahon and directed by McMahon and Glave is a drama about one family’s struggle to do what’s best for each other and themselves.
• “Bug’s New Job,” written and directed by Nick and Nate DeRado, in which the ambitious Fly Swatter suddenly finds himself overshadowed at work by his brother Bug, who happens to be a puppet — and also doesn’t have arms.

The teens enjoyed writing together.

“We got to bounce ideas off each other a lot,” Egnor said. “We got some of our best lines from talking to each other.”

They have “an old smoking lady,” Egnor said. “She’s played by a man, which makes it more funny.”

It’s the “Golden Girls” gone wrong, said Sherman, of the TV sitcom comedy featuring Betty White.

McKenna, like many of the students, is doing double duty, also acting in other plays. She’s in Tara McMahon’s show and Nick DeRado’s piece.

“It’s fun. I am an actress involved in theater,” she said. But the one acts are not the same.

“We are working with my friends. It’s a different environment then a drama or a musical. We are working with people we love.”