Theatre should show that everyone has a story to tell, and the writer of One Shot, has grasped the opportunity to tell their story. Julia Szajkowska is the winner of the Applecart Art’s script writing competition, SEEDs. The piece was selected to be directed by Prashant Nagar and filmed, as the UK emerged from lockdown, in the Applecart Arts Littlebox Theatre space in East London.
One Shot is a monologue piece performed by young actor Warren Mendy. The character, Kyle, shares his personal experiences with the audience; he details his life as he looks to the future as he leaves school. But being set in a dystopian era, where students are given little option of what to do in the future, those options are dictated by their background and where they live. The piece looks at stereotypes, racial prejudice, and the role of the education system in dictating young people’s futures.
The piece has become particularly poignant in light of recent events, with the confusion and mess surrounding student’s A-level results following lockdown in summer 2020. Indeed, it is the actor’s experience of the education system for himself, that enables him to give a genuine performance full of integrity, clearly drawing upon his own experiences. The director and actor worked together to use the actor’s focus and high level of commitment to maintain the tension of the piece, from its confrontational and sharp start, to its climatic end.
The vernacular language created by the writer enabled the director and actor to create a simple performance that takes the audience beyond the scene of the play itself. Set in a blackbox theatre, the character sat simply on a wooden bench for the entire piece. This lack of distraction enabled the writer’s detailed descriptions, storytelling, analytical thoughts, emotions, and metaphors to come alive, and the audience really could picture what the character talked about and connect to his reactions.
Lighting design helped the audience visualise Kyle’s internal thoughts. Mostly a warm light beam on Kyle showed he was relaxed and himself. Throughout the piece, voices of different characters that had an impact on Kyle were played. The lighting changed in these moments to take the focus away from Kyle, with uplighting used to change audience perception. Coupled with his sitting position, it made Kyle seem vulnerable, and showed the influence of these other characters on him. Actor Warren Mendy also recorded the voiceovers, so that they are Kyle’s interpretation of these influences, and his reaction to them is heard in the pitch, pace, tone, and accent of the voiceovers.
Overall, One Shot is successful because of its simplicity, and the obvious teamwork between the cast and crew to create a cohesive piece. All the elements come together to point the audience towards its message and crowning glory, which must be Szajkowska’s genius writing.