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Festival of solo shows the last foray for MFA theater candidates

Meg Chamberlain woke up every day for three weeks doubting her comedic abilities.

“I’m not funny. This is a bad idea. I’m not funny,” said the Master of Fine Arts in acting student.

Determined to not give up, Chamberlain said she continued to plug away at being funny by working with comedy coaches. That practice and her love for the Denver Broncos helped to find inspiration for her final project “Meg!” that will be performed in the MFA Acting Solo Festival. Along with making fun of football fans, Chamberlain said “Meg!” will poke at her marriage and her flaws.   

The festival will showcase nine MFA acting students and each of their performances, which can be up to 20 minutes in length, said Jeanine Thompson, coordinating director of the festival. The performances should reflect what each student has learned over the course of the three-year program and must be submitted and approved by faculty members.

Patrick Wiabel, a MFA student in acting, said he was pushed to create his work, “The Man Inside,” because of the violence and struggle for power in Ferguson, Mo., and the death of Michael Brown.

Wiabel said “The Man Inside” tells the story of a boy named Ransom who came from one of the two major mafia families in Tennessee. After the death of his best friend, Ransom struggles not only to figure out who he associates with and who he wants to be, but how to get the other people around him to also see who he really is.

“That’s what this story is about: the power struggle,” he said. “It’s taking on that idea of who holds the power right now.”

Brent Ries, a third-year MFA student in acting, said his piece “Bright Eyes” attempts to show how traumatic moments mold the identity of people.

Ries said the death of his sister from sudden infant death syndrome had a hand in the sensitive and inquisitive person he is today.

“What I’m hoping that (the audience) will take away is a sense (that we) are all individuals, (and) we all have a journey,” Ries said. “It’s about embracing one’s self and kind of saying, ‘This is who I am. Love me for who I am because I love myself.’”

The MFA Acting Solo Festival will be shown Wednesday through April 19 at the Ray Bowen Theatre in the Drake Performance and Events Center. The performances are divided into two sections, Scarlet and Gray, playing on alternate nights. Times are listed on the Department of Theatre’s website. Admission is $20 for general public, $18 for faculty, staff and alumni, $18 for senior citizens, $15 for students and children.

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