Vestrich shines in Black Box

Students in the Theatre Arts Department gained experience in producing plays close to home last weekend.

TAKE FIVE, a series of five one-act plays, were written by veteran communication professor Roy Vestrich. The plays, performed in the Black Box Theatre, included elements of romance, friendship, family, and academics.

For the plays’ directors, the stress of a tight timeline was compounded by the desire to produce something great for Vestrich, who would be in attendance at each showing.

“This is the first time that we’ve had an original piece by someone in the department who we’ve all worked with,” said Jeff Blanchette, director of “The Search Committee.” “We want to do him proud. Definitely.”

Vestrich discussed his goal of creating an emotional connection with the audience in an interview prior to the debut performance.

“I hope people who go there will laugh, that they’ll be touched at the appropriate moments, and that they’ll be moved emotionally,” he said.

One of the plays, titled “Green Mountain Bucks,” was presented at the Edward Albee Theatre Festival in Valdez, Alaska in 1999.  The brilliant performance of this play by Castleton actors Robert Valenti and Cameron Scully, took the audience through a series of emotions, as the character Joe remembered childhood hunting trips with his father who he accidentally shot and killed at age 14.

Andrew Wilson, an adjunct communication professor, attended the Sunday matinee with his wife and son.

“This is one of the reasons I like teaching here so much,” said Wilson. “I have the chance to see students I’ve had in class direct and perform good work written by a colleague in my department in a small, intimate setting.”

TAKE FIVE was produced, acted, and directed entirely by students. Vestrich said he was not at all involved in the process of production other than answering questions.

“What I meant may not be what you get and what you get may have nothing to do with what I meant. But if you get it, it’s there, and it’s yours,” Vestrich said of the plays.

The experience of producing the plays was enjoyable for director of “Steak and Potatoes”, Meghan Hakey.

When asked if she would direct another one of Vestrich’s plays, she enthusiastically answered, “in a heartbeat.”

“I think it’s really nice way for all of us to show our appreciation for what he’s done for us over the years,” added Blanchette.

Vestrich, who began teaching at Castleton in 1988, said this was the first time he had an opportunity to see his plays acted out on a Castleton stage and he “walked away very impressed”.

The spring of 2014 is Vestrich’s final semester teaching full-time. Beginning in the fall of 2014, he will teach part-time while pursuing his passions for sailing, writing, music, and the arts.

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