Lehman Playwrights Festival Centers Student Realities

By Hector Bello

Actors Brian Paredes and Kevin Vencosme play Roberto and Hector in “Sheema’s Wolf.” Photo by Hector Bello.

The special effects produced in this semester’s New Student Playwrights Festival took spectators on a magical journey into diverse realities. Running from Mar. 1-3 at the Lovinger Theatre, this spring’s festival, which happens every semester, showcased the work of six student playwrights: Yasmilka Clase’s “Speed Dating,” Erachie Brown’s “Your Cheating Heart,” Leonel Henriquez’s “Sheema’s Wolf,” Leslie Huynh’s “Passing” Eloy Rosario “Unrequited,” and Robert Torigoe’s “Deliver Me.” (Full disclosure: Henriquez is the managing editor of this paper.)

Despite the small size of the stage, the production team managed to use it effectively to make the audience part of the script. Director and Lehman professor Stephanie Stowe said, “Our choice to make people sit around the actors and actresses was an artistic choice. When we allow people to sit next to the performers, it surprises them and gives the plays a more intimate, personal feeling between the performers and the audience.” 

Stowe also noted that the production was completed under a tight deadline. “We only had two weeks to prepare everything,” she explained. “We had to proofread the plays, choose the clothing and everything. It was hard work but we got it done.”

Scene from “Deliver Me” by Torigoe. Photo by Hector Bello.

Student writers and actors who participated felt empowered by the opportunity to take the stage. Lehman student Brian Paredes, who plays Roberto in “Sheema’s Wolf,” by Leonel Henriquez, said it fed his love of acting. “We had new faces as well as old faces. Behind the scenes, it was good…this is what I need in my life.”  

Theatre major and senior Robert Torigoe, author of “Deliver Me,” said he is evolving as a writer and felt amazing writing this specific play.  He said, “It is the beginning. I am just beginning to write plays. I keep writing more and seeing if I can write more plays in the future!” 

Audience members also enjoyed the production. Lehman student Kelvin Santos, 28, said the first play, “Sheema’s Wolf,” was his favorite.  He said, “It was just so funny. I could relate with all the characters. The way they spoke, dressed and behaved was like what I live in the Bronx every day.”