City College drama puts on 7th Annual Festival of Plays

Student-run production showcases eight plays that speak to the diversity of the City community


Lilac Kirkpatrick plays Kit in “Not Like You,” written by Alex Walker, directed by Gabriela D’Amico and performed at San Diego City College in the 7th Annual Festival of Plays on March 8. Isaiah Moore and Brandy DeBatte-Corona (in the background) play characters named Masc and Femme. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

Philip Salata, News Editor

After a two-hour run-through of the San Diego City College 7th annual Festival of Plays, supervisor and producer Kate Neff Stone and her team weren’t done yet.

It was time to go through all the set changes again – twice.

Rather than a gasp of horror at another laborious hour of moving boxes in the dark, the team jumped to it.

The production, which consists of eight student-written short plays, is also directed, acted, and crewed by a troupe of students who treat the opportunity as working professionals. 

Exploring themes related to gender identity, sexuality, loneliness, acceptance and the ever-nebulous concept of love, the writers wrestled with questions that evoked something personal, while still finding ways to make the stories accessible to the public.

“What is love really?” the audience heard a voice ask, projected from a speaker during “Heartache and Paper,” devised and written by Kaileykielle Hoga.

“It’s like jumping out of an airplane with your eyes closed,” another voice answered.

Soon the stage was aflutter with flying paper, reckonings on the subject of love, having to cope, thrive and struggle while seeking fulfillment through the other.

Papers thrown into the air during the performance of "Heartache and Paper"
Performers Carolina Marques, Olive Cortinas and Tiffany Ávila Bastidas throw paper into the air during a performance of “Heartache and Paper,” devised and written by Kaileykielle Hoga. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

Valynsia Sims, who has spent most of her life in the theatre acting, directed two pieces in the production. She described yet another way of finding meaningful lived experience in the other, specifically the thrills of becoming another person, albeit temporarily.

She was speaking about acting.

“It’s kind of fun being someone sweet, (or) someone bad,” she said. “Last semester I played Ross in (MacBeth), and that’s a soldier and also a man.”

The pieces she directed showed an earnestness in trying to capture deeper qualities of character. 

One piece she directed was about a woman practicing a speech for the wedding of a girlfriend she had been in love with, and who was now marrying a man.

The other was about an unlikely bond between a confident elderly woman in a retirement home and a young woman who serendipitously finds solace in her company. They both need one another in intrinsic ways.

Sims approached the work with her actors by analyzing the needs, intentions and psychological narratives of her characters, so that her actors could potentially feel what the characters might have felt.

“Sometimes some of the rehearsals got really heavy because some of the (themes) are very intense,” she said. 

Some of the actors had lived experiences similar to those in the play, “so they fully brought in their own experience into their character, into the acting,” Sims said. “And you can see that on stage.”

Eddy Lukovic, a fellow student director, also explored his new role for the first time, and found himself fully occupied, even in his sleep.

“When you’re a director, you’ve got to have your hands in the acting, and the sound, and the set, and the text,” he said. “Last week, I’ve woken up in the middle (of the night) to take notes for really random things.”

Ty Garrett and Vincent Bossone in Semper Fidelis
Ty Garrett and Vincent Bossone, as Sgt. Tim Randle and Sgt. Allen Manders, piece together an Ikea crib in “Semper Fidelis,” written by Christopher Croucher and directed by Eddy Lukovic. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

And that sounds fitting, as Lukovic’s piece Semper Fidelis, written by Christopher Croucher, shows a highly imaginative inversion of a sword-in-the-stone story involving two military veterans struggling to parcel together an Ikea crib.

The piece comically volleys questions of hubris and the fragility of masculinity.

The Festival of Plays curates an approachable two hours of theatre, relevant to the City community, and therefore is rewarding to watch.

Tickets are limited, so you may have to work some magic to find a way in.

San Diego City College 7th annual Festival of Plays

At San Diego City College Black Box Theatre


Thursday, March 17, at 2 p.m.

Friday, March 18, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m.


$10-15;  Free on March 17