Power of One: Theatre for All

Nell J. Redfield Theatre Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Photo from the UNR Theatre and Dance department website https://www.unr.edu/theatre-dance/student-resources

Due to the crippling global pandemic that struck entire nations, one of the most intimate art forms in our modern world has been momentarily put on hold, or so we thought. Rob Gander, a theatre professor at the University of Nevada, Reno realized that all you need for a theatre production is one actor and one audience member. With every theatre professor and student yearning to get back to the stage, Power of One was born.

Power of One is a collection of monologues about the good and the loving times in these actors, now playwrights, lives and one audience member of their choice to experience it. Plus, each one has been filmed and is almost ready for your at home viewing pleasure!

Speaking to the curator himself, Rob Gander and what inspired him to ask actors to audition, write, and perform their own monologue on stage and behind a camera, he said there were three things. First, he pulled out an acting book called “The Empty Space” by Peter Brook and quotes “I can take an empty space and call it a stage. A man walks across this empty space while someone else is watching him and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.”

Second, he liked the immediacy of two human beings in a space together that a traveling theatre booth Theatre for One had to offer. Finally, he just wanted to give college actors a chance to be resilient and for an audience to experience these uplifting stories during a global pandemic that impacted everyone so hard.

Talking to student actor Maddy Regrut (she/her) about what it was like being asked to do a one man show, “I was a little hesitant at first because it’s something that’s never been done before.”

Another cast member, Dylan Dahle (he/him), agrees that “it would be great to get people back into a theatre, back into that creative space where anything is possible. I didn’t think there were too many constraints on what could be explored by filming theatre.” Additionally, he added “until everything is as back to normal as it can get, this is a great way to do it.”

While most people chose a significant other, a best friend, a sibling, and even the love for strangers, Maddy Regrut chose her hometown of Telluride, Colorado. With her mom as the audience member, Maddy speaks with passion and jumps around on stage with childlike excitement describing her quiet ski resort town. “I just wanted to tell something that was important to me for such a unique experience.” This monologue in particular seems to be very Covid accurate as most people were locked in their homes but Maddy exclaimed it’s the simplest pleasures of looking out over her hometown and feeling an overwhelming amount of love that brought her happiness in an uncertain time.

With a blushing smile in his tone, Dylan Dahle says “it is about my girlfriend, Megan, we’ve kind of gone through a bit of a weird life changing circumstance and it was a way to say thank you for staying with my insane mind through it all.” Everyone feels like they’ve gone a little bit insane since March of 2020 but lucky for Dylan, meeting Megan was a positive part of the pandemic. He goes on to share some warm moments he’s had with her over the months of their relationship, and after watching, it’s hard not to tear up a little bit as you feel the love radiate through the screen.

During the Covid-19 pandemic many were fortunate enough to work from home, but many actors had performed for their final time in 2020 without knowing it. Thanks to Rob Gander, some of these acting students had an amazing opportunity to get back to doing what they love and audience members have a chance to experience it virtually.

Thinking about theatre during a pandemic Rob said this was an attempt to “try to see if we could do the impossible.” To see eighteen theatrical monologues written, staged and performed by the students of ‘Zoom university’, visit vimeo.com/showcase/power-of-one opening April 23, 2021 at 7:30 pm and available…indefinitely!

Sources for this publication were from University of Nevada, Reno Professor Robert Gander and students Maddy Regrut and Dylan Dahle. Interviews were conducted over zoom with permission to be recorded.

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