UpStart 20

 PosterFestival of Innovative Theatre

Performances: March 18, 2020 - March 21, 2020

Venue: Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages Building

The Upstart Festival was a juried one-act play festival produced by the Theatre and Performance program. All the plays were written, directed, designed, and performed by students.


All Art is Quite Useless

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Gaya Bin Noon and Cameron Slipp

Directed by Michael Klein

Musical Direction by Peter de Sousa

Based on the original 1890 edition of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, this new musical explored the first published version of a text that was later significantly edited to remove passages deemed "indecent" in nature. The story focused on the relationship between Basil Hallward, a society painter, and a young aristocrat named Dorian Gray. When Basil presents Dorian with a painting he has created of him, Dorian despairs that the portrait will stay the same as he ages, and enters into a Faustian bargain to preserve his youth. As Dorian begins a descent into pure hedonism, Basil grapples with expressing himself both as an artist and a gay man in Victorian England, where homosexuality was criminalized. Basil's struggle parallels Wilde's own personal struggle that ended in his arrest, after a series of trials where the first edition of Dorian Gray was used against him in court.

Bitter/Sweet Fools 

Written by Joanna Cleary

Directed by Monica Durlak

"Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet one?"

– Shakespeare, King Lear (1.4.141-142)

Set on the last night of Elizabeth I's reign, Bitter/Sweet Fools followed a family struggling to forgive each other for the memories they share of a tragic accident. When Agnes visits Tom, her mentally and physically disabled son outcasted from society because of the part he played in his younger sister Elizabeth's death, she is prepared to make a decision from which she won't be able to recover. However, her resolve begins to waver as Tom earnestly insists he is looking after the ghost of his sister. Love and shame take turns outweighing one another while the ghost of Elizabeth, chasing a mystical sun, weaves in and out of her past. As all three characters slowly come together to tell the story of their disjointed family, their identities are shaped in ways that will forever alter them. 

Things we lost in the Aftermath

Written by Alexis Joy Nagum

Directed by Mira J. Henderson

Something irrevocably changed one night in a cabin by the lake for Zac and his friends. Though Zac's memory of that night is fragmented, he knew his childhood friend Marni is the key to a clean resolution. Unbeknownst to him, the tensions that remain unresolved and unspoken in the friend group hinge on the secret she holds. Driven by the need to solve this conflict, the two uncover more to their group than they expected. Pent-up aggression, jealousies, and so many secrets all come to a head on one depressing memory of that night. In the aftermath of losing our friends, what do we do with these feelings we still have and is anyone ever right to inflict those emotions on each other?

Check out our Dramaturgy Hub for more info on the production of Upstart20.



Set and Props Designer - Saffiya Kherraji

Costume Designer - Rebecca Petrosino

Lighting Designer - Chelsea Vanoverbeke

Sound Designer - Cameron Jolliffe

Festival Dramaturg - Kristina Nasato

Dramaturgs - Wendy Qing, Lilly McDonald, Eleanna Moutevelidis


Production Manager - Janelle Rainville

Technical Director - Gill Lesperance

Staff Head of Wardrobe - Sharon E. Secord

Acting Coach / Intimacy Director - Melinda Little

Supervising Dramaturg - Jennifer Roberts-Smith

Production and Design Supervisor - Paul Cegys

Fight Director - Derrick Rabethge

Web Designer - Justin Seto

Head of Lighting - Stephanie Dilnot

Head of Publicity - May Nemat Allah

Festival Stage Manager - Lindsay McDonald

Production Crew - Hannah Daudlin, Mira J. Henderson, Tony Liu, Wendy Qing, Alec Ewing, Alexandra Kale, Eleanna Moutevelidis, Lilian Adom, Brooke Reid, Kassidy Shaw, Trevor Sinke, Wren Torout


Things We Lost In The Aftermath

Playwright - Alexis Joy Nagum

Director - Mira J. Henderson

Rehearsal Stage Manager - Darius Hahn


Marni - Yuru Su

Zac - Abbey MacDonald

Alana - Emma-Leigh Simonot

Nick - Cameron Smith

Jules - Wren Tourout

Bitter/Sweet Fools

Playwright - Joanna Cleary

Director - Monica Durlak

Rehearsal Stage Manager - Brooke Barnes


Tom - Thea Andres

Elizabeth - Lilly McDonald

Agnes - Lynn Scott

All Art Is Quite Useless 

Book - Gaya Bin Noon

Music and Lyrics - Cameron Slipp

Director - Michael Klein

Stage Manager - Lindsay McDonald

Musical Director/Pianist - Peter De Sousa

Cellist (March 18, 20, 21) - Erin Walker

Cellist (March 19) - Peter Thompson


Dorian - Brooke Reid

Basil - Rachel Vander Doelen

Lord Henry - Kassidy Shaw

Sibyl - Wren Tourout


Centre in the Square, Coral Andrews, Rana Nemat Allah, The Victoria Playhouse, Donna Schell, Stephanie Ye-Mowe, Shamanta Haider