On Jan. 8, as part of a 24 hour play initiative sponsored by the drama department, Students were invited to gather at Perry library and put their name in a hat under “director,” “actor” or “writer.” Groups were randomly assembled into combinations of these three categories. The groups again picked from a hat to determine genre, set piece and prop, and the race to assemble a complete play began. On a Friday teeming with distractions, writers wrote furiously through the night to create original work, incorporating the random elements they had picked.
The genre requirements definitely required a lot from the writers, actors and directors. One particularly demanding requirement was to create an opera. Fatima Anaza ’18, the director for the opera, explained that she actually enjoyed the additional creative burden of having those guidelines because “the whole fun was in putting on a show that should be impossible.” She added that with approximately eight hours between receiving the script and putting on the play, the experience was an excellent exercise in time management. Challenges included a frantic search for props and impromptu composing. Anaza said, “while the songs were written, there was no music, so I had to create melodies to go with our brilliant writing. So our play turned out to be a Taylor Swift/ Ode to ‘Into the Woods’/ Opera”.
The writers, Kimberly Golding ’16 and Jacqueline Lane ’16, and the entire cast, Clyde Engle ’15, Madeleine Walsh ’18 and Teague Morris ’17, pulled off this challenging task admirably. The actors projected in true operatic fashion, and the entire segment was a success. It incorporated a pirate theme and star crossed lovers to keep the audience invested and innuendo that kept the audience laughing.
The set direction for all of the plays was also very creative. One play required that its actors travel from Paris to Venice in the span of 30 seconds. The actors maneuvered a couple chairs and table expertly. They created and deconstructed an Eiffel tower (two chairs leaning against each other on the table) and built a credible gondola.
The props that the writers were required to incorporate presented another challenge, but were often so seamlessly added to the plot that I could barely tell that they had been required elements. One required prop was a severed leg. A particularly skillful incorporation of this particular prop occurred in the musical genre play, a post-apocalyptic comedy about two soldiers on a mission to dispatch a power crazy dictator. The two soldiers wander along, hungry, dehydrated and despairing, and the young and impressionable private sings a heart wrenching (and hilarious) ballad about his mother who has died in the post-apocalypse. In her memory, he carries her leg with him at all times. His enterprising sergeant quickly realizes that the leg is their ticket for survival. He convinces the private to let go of the past, arguing that we have to make sacrifices for people we care about in the powerhouse duet “I’m thirsty for you.” The song ends with the private and sergeant biting into the leg together.
The 24 hour play festival demonstrated the incredible talent and creativity of the student writers, directors and actors, and their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. Anaza agreed, saying, “Seeing everything come together was so worth it. If you’ve never had the time to do theatre, do this.”