Mark Twain, once asked for writing advice, said, “Write what you know.” Directors Ikaika Ortiz and Andy Brown took that to heart as they are directing an original play to be presented at SPSCC.
Ortiz explained that the funding for the drama department’s quarterly production came from the funds for an evening acting class. With enrollment low, funding has been taken from other departments to produce shows. When the school could no longer afford this, the play was cancelled. Consequently, Ortiz and Brown decided to create, produce, and direct a play themselves.
According to Ortiz, the most difficult part was writing the script in enough time for rehearsals. “I finished the script in two weeks,” said Ortiz, “I don’t know how I did that.”
However, he went on to say that more than enough people were willing to be a part of the production. Props and funding have been no issue, and actors are providing their own costumes outside of what is already available.
This production, playfully entitled “Untitled,” is Ortiz’s first large dramatic work. “The actual script started out as a joke. Oh, why don’t we just write about our experiences? It’s the easiest way to let the community know,” said Ortiz.
During brainstorming, a play-within-a-play and a comedic Christmas-themed show were two suggestions that were combined with their own story. Consequently, “Untitled” tells the story of two friends whose play is cancelled at their college due to the lack of funding, causing them to write and direct one on their own, cultivating in a charming holiday tale performed in Act II.
The two main characters, Kenneth and Haley are each based on combined aspects of Ortiz and Brown, sharing a similar relationship, character traits and experiences. In fact, a large portion of their dialogue occurred verbatim between Brown and Ortiz.
“Basically all of their crazy antics, lack of sleep, lack of eating; everything that we’ve gone through is in this play,” said Brown.
The character of Kenneth, based largely on Ortiz himself, has his fair share of comedic moments while also interspersing moments of sincere honesty. While it is known that Kenneth has gone through some emotional trauma, it is never exactly stated what happened. As conflict resolves and the show begins to close, Kenneth performs a monologue to a deceased loved one.
This touching moment is based off a critical moment in Oritz’s life. “Last year, I was in a relationship for about a month … but he unfortunately died in a hiking accident,” said Ortiz, “It’s almost been a year now and I’ve always wanted to do something in memory of him.”
Not only has this play allowed Ortiz to debut his writing skills, but it has allowed him to memorialize a meaningful person and time in his life.
“Untitled” will be performed in the Black Box in the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center on Nov. 14-15 and 20-22 at 7:30 p.m., with two matinees at 2 p.m. on Nov. 16 and 23.
Correction November 7, 2014: In the printed version of this article, the word presented is misspelled as presente.