Student creates, self-directs one act play

Thomas' 'therapeutic' production to struggles with grief

Grief grips each person in unique ways, an idea that captivated Tre Thomas, sophomore history major, and inspired the creation of a one act play to be performed April 11 at 7 p.m. His self-written story revolves around a mother and daughter working to rekindle their relationship after losing connection after the death of a loved one.

Thomas’s theater journey began in high school. As a freshman, he joined the tennis team but said he found himself dreading every practice and match.

“Whenever I wanted to skip tennis practice, I would go with [a friend] to theater,” Thomas said.  “And, you know, they let me in. I helped out with stage stuff, and I just fell in love with the whole thing.”

From then on, Thomas dedicated parts of his free time to acting and helping out in the theater. He’s been participating in Waynesburg University’s theater since his freshman year.

Thomas’s writing was initiated by the Play Writing class taught by Edward Powers. Granted, Thomas knew he’d need the theater credit, but that wasn’t his only drive to tackle the course.

“I wanted to force myself to create something I could finish,” Thomas said.

Writing the play was exhilarating, according to Thomas. He developed his time-management skills through scheduling time to write amidst a multitude of other dedications. Upon finishing his one act, Thomas said he has constantly been asked how he wrote the play.

“I don’t know. In the best way possible, I don’t know,” Thomas said. “It was coming closer and closer to the dead line, and I had no ideas. I was working off of this one name I had: Marceline. Once the character was created, she told me her story and that’s what I wrote. It wasn’t me creating this false world.”

Even though Thomas himself was the scribe for the play, he added that the story itself twisted into a shape he never really anticipated.

“It shifted, because in my original draft, Marceline was the main character,” Thomas said. “But as she told me her story, I realized that, even in her own story she wasn’t the main character; her mother was.”

In order to perfectly portray the emotional plot of Thomas’s play, he was tasked with electing the ideal performers.

MaryBeth Cocchi, a junior nursing major, was chosen to play the best friend of the daughter in Thomas’s play which also happens to be her first time acting since middle school.

“It really helped me with being more comfortable on a stage and really being a better public speaker,” Cocchi said.

Cocchi said trying out this new outlet not only developed professional skills, but personal skills as well.

“Acting in this role, with my own experiences, helped me to realize there is no time limit on grief,” Cocchi said. “[Grief] can be ugly. It can be hard. It just hits you all at once. I’ve lost 6 people in my family, and, yeah, it’s been hard. Working on this play, though, it’s been therapeutic. I’m working through my own grief as well as the characters’.”

Both Thomas and Cocchi commended the immense emotional value the play has to offer those who watch it and those who perform it. Cocchi’s experience with the one act play has cultivated an adoration and respect for theater which Cocchi attributed to Thomas.

“Tre is a great director,” Cocchi said. “Super amazing to work with. He’s always willing to work around scheduling conflicts and has just really made this play come to life.”