Peter Floyd screened a documentary on Jane Goodall's chimpanzee studies to help his actors learn monkey behavior. Jim Carroll took his cast to Saugus for a miniature-golf outing, rehearsing under the watchful eye of an orange tyrannosaurus. To help her cast develop Australian accents, Alice Waugh transcribed some of the lines phonetically and rented Crocodile Dundee for her cast.
All this was in preparation for "Quintessential Comedies: An Evening of Short One-Acts," presented by the MIT Community Players, Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 8-10, at 8pm in Kresge Little Theater.
Mr. Floyd, who graduated from MIT in 1987 with a degree in political science and now works in the chemistry department's Education Office, is directing Words, Words, Words by David Ives, in which three experimental monkeys struggle to write Hamlet.
Mr. Carroll is directing Foreplay, or the Art of the Fugue, also by Mr. Ives, in which Chuck (one character played by three actors) takes a series of women on miniature-golfing dates.
Tech Talk Assistant Editor Alice Waugh is directing Jonathan Reynolds' Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, Part II or How We Got America's Most Wanted and The New York Post, an imagined epiphany in publisher Rupert Murdoch's childhood.
These three first-time directors are joined by Janni Moselsky-Hansen, senior secretary in civil and environmental engineering, who is directing Cleve Haubold's The Mice Have Been Drinking Again , and Yael Agi, director of Garrison Keillor's The Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus.
"We chose to do one-acts to give people a chance to try directing on something less daunting than a full-length play," said producer/actor Karen Mueller-Harder, senior library assistant at the Rotch Library.
But ironically, it's Ms. Mueller-Harder who has taken on what is perhaps the most daunting role in the production. As producer, she's responsible for meeting the needs of five sets of directors, actors and crew members; as thespian, she's portraying Kafka, an experimental monkey in Words, Words, Words and Alma, one of Chuck's dates in Foreplay.
"Karen is a near-bottomless source of energy and enthusiasm," said Peter Floyd, who's also doing double duty as director and actor.
"Producing five one-acts is more complicated than producing one play," Ms. Mueller-Harder acknowledged, "but since most of the production staff is the same for all five, it's only about twice as complicated. We're very lucky to have an excellent team, most of whom have worked with the group before."
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A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 24, 1996.