By OCEANA PEEMOELLER
On Jan. 16, student-run Studio 115 opened the semester by smashing the bottle that is the 24-Hour Play Festival on the metaphorical ship that is the semester itself. Kenneth Bellamy, a senior double majoring in theatre and English Secondary Education, explained that everything from auditioning to writing scripts all took place in that 24-hour period.
An event from the early 2000’s, 24 has seen the whole gamut of direction its plays have taken. Just last semester, the plays included a modern take on the interactions of the Greek gods, a performance piece dedicated to the female orgasm and a play about a student starting to move past a failing relationship.
The air hummed with excitement and conversation in equal measure; first in the hallway of duPont’s basement and then in Studio 115 itself. Once everyone found their seats, it was mere minutes before the lights dimmed and plunged the audience into darkness. The actors took their spots, the stage brightened and the show began.
“You never know what might happen, you don’t even know the mood of the plays going in because they aren’t written until that night,” said Alexander Taggert, a graduating senior theatre major who has participated in the event for the past 10 semesters.
The first play, “El Camino Real” depicted two college students taking a break at a diner during an impromptu road trip to Disney World. They also asked a waitress for directions to Murphy Ranch to scatter the ashes of one student’s grandmother, only to discover that it was built in the 1930s as a base for Nazi activity in the United States. It also led to the awkward—and completely hilarious—discovery that Grandma’s a Nazi.
Taggert’s comment about the moods of the plays was never truer than in “Lily in the Dark,” the second play. “Lily in the Dark” explored themes of moving forward and mourning with a supernatural twist vaguely reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Coincidentally enough, this skit’s setting also took place on Christmas Day and dealt with its protagonist conversing directly with a couple spirits in order to see her life with clearer vision.
The third play, titled “The Mary Washington Improvicon’s Present an Evening of Games, Japes, and Comedy,” was a slightly meta take on how an improv actor’s personal drama can and will ruin a show.
The fourth and final act was a fitting sendoff to this year’s graduating seniors as well as a bittersweet note to end the performance. It followed a college advisor helping the different types of seniors about to leave the hallowed halls of their university. As the final lines of this skit so succinctly summed up, no matter how often those involved go through the song and dance, “it never gets any easier.”
“I liked the fourth one with the academic advisor. It was great how many different types of seniors they captured; like the ones who are panicking about graduation, the ones who don’t care, and the ones who just want to go home and somehow get a job. It’s very relatable; I think I’ve gone through all of the stages by this point,” said Audrey Carol, a senior English major.
For those who missed out on participating in the 24-Hour Play Festival and still want to get involved, keep an eye on Studio 115’s Facebook page, because among some of the studio’s upcoming events is a full length theatrical production. The next play this semester will take place the first weekend of the Fall 2016 semester back at Studio 115.
“As far as people who may want to join us in the future, I say just come out and try it,” Taggert said. “We are a really welcoming group of people. Most people would think there would be a lot of pressure to try and learn lines of a play in less than a day but it’s really a low pressure environment. Come as you are and be open to the experience. You’ll have a great time.”