By Jamie Mast
From all across campus actors, writers, directors, and managers gathered to pull off the unthinkable. With a limit of twenty-four hours they worked with one goal in mind: to write and produce five different ten-minute dramas with a common theme in mind. The process started Friday night at eight as the writers and directors auditioned and chose their actors. Then, as the clock struck ten, the writers shut themselves in the campus coffee shop and started writing. On and on they wrote until six in the morning when they met with the directors and worked on editing and producing the second draft. From there the writers were blessed with a few precious hours of sleep as the directors raced to gather their actors and start rehearsing the drama. Finally, at eight Saturday night, the doors to the Kelly Auditorium opened and the masses were allowed to enter. 24 hours of writing, editing, and rehearsing had come to a close, but the show had only just begun.
The first performance of the night was “The Greatest of These,” written by Josiah Hackett and directed by Andrew Cora. It was a short drama about trust, choice, and family. A father and his two daughters start off the drama with light-hearted dad jokes and a riddle referring to 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” This light-hearted tone is shaken as the eldest daughter, Faith, raced off to a “friend’s” house. The scene changes as time skips ahead and the audience is introduced back to the youngest sister, Hope, as she plays with her stuffed animals. As her elephant and bear bicker about lies and trust, it foreshadows what is soon to come. As Hope returns, Faith instantly can tell that something is wrong, and Faith admits that she slept with a guy and doesn’t know how to handle the result of that action. She begs her sister not to tell their father but soon their father finds out. He reprimands Faith but she fights back, stating that one thing lead to the next and she felt like she was left with no choice. As the Father and Faith storm off in the opposite directions, Hope is left alone with little faith and hope, with the lack of love in the family, their names and actions playing off the verse stated earlier.
“100 Miles to Saskatchewan,” written by Levi Lamberjack and directed by Adam Foster, takes place in what I understood to be a dystopian America where rebels are fleeing to Canada for safety from the government. Three of those rebels, Shepherd, Colt, and Ava are trapped in a cabin 100 miles away from Saskatchewan and are starting to get stir- crazy. Colt and Ava’s bickering soon turns into comfort, but their friend Shepherd starts to get more antsy. Filled with frustration, Shepherd lashes out at Colt and Ava and storms off, leaving them alone. As hours pass Ava starts to worry about Shepherd and looks through his bag, finding a brand-new cellphone. She is filled with doubt as the satellites have been cut and there is no reason he should have this phone. When Shepherd finally returns Ava confronts him and finds out that he has betrayed them to the authorities because the government has threatened to hurt people he loves. Betrayed, Ava points out that they have all lost people they love. Their friendship now shattered; Ava sends him away as the authorities close in.
“Flux” by Autumn Owens, directed by Ethan Babler, starts off with a blood-curdling shriek as protagonist Avery rushes into the light. She is soon joined by two other girls who quickly comfort her. It is revealed that they are in “the Flux”— a place of in-between with no escape, unless the person trapped can figure out how they got there in the first place. The longer you are in the Flux the more you forget about your life outside of the Flux until someone can remind you, and then finally you are able to leave. Both girls cling to Avery, hoping that she is the missing link to their past and they can finally leave this never-ending prison. Slowly, one by one, the girls start to remember how they got into the Flux. Betrayal, hate, greed, and envy divide the girls apart until Avery is left alone to deal with her guilt.
“The Crazy Hotel Mishap,” written by Gerard Hall and directed by Chloe Flanagan, takes place in—you guessed it—a hotel. The audience is instantly introduced to Samantha and her daughter Sabrina as they try to find a room to spend the night. The concierge takes their name but states that there is no room booked under their name. As the two women start to bicker, they are met with different workers of the hotel who seem to be the same man. They turn on each other, pointing out their flaws, unaware of the crazier situation around them. Wrapped in their own problems, they are unaware of what truly matters and are eventually carried off by the police.
Finally, “True Colors,” written by Wesley Lantz and directed by Matthew Anderson, takes place on the sidewalk outside of the city hall. Livia stares down at a parrot that lies lifeless in the middle of the sidewalk. She is soon joined by Angela as she tries to rush by only to be stopped by the strange appearance of a parrot so far away from its natural habitat. Livia introduces herself to Angela, revealing that she is trying to open a rehabilitation center for the community. However, this center hasn’t been able to open yet due to the fact that the health inspector never came to approve the building. Livia corners Angela as a light bulb slowly clicks on; the name Angela seems oddly familiar to her. Their conversation is interrupted as a local news gopher, Stephanie, literally runs into Livia, spilling her papers everywhere. Frustrated, Angela leaves Livia alone to help Stephanie. The problem comes to light with a quick steel of a wallet and the ladies soon realized how their lives were all connected. The climax of the play came as the janitor claimed the parrot, a realistic stuffed bird, and announced to everyone that a certain bar owner was waiting to meet Angela. When the corruption is revealed, Angela storms off, leaving Livia and Stephanie to leave together in hope to expose this corruption.
Overall, each play was well thought out and produced, despite the short time period. While the actors did stumble a few lines or the action didn’t quite flow, it never took away from the full performance, allowing the audience to sit back and enjoy the show. At the beginning of the night, it was mentioned that the writers had to write according to a certain theme; however, that theme was not stated. So if I were to guess what that theme was I would guess that it would have to do something with trust. Many of the productions dealt with the theme of betrayal and double-crossing. Another thing that might have added to the theme was a fun prop that popped up in every performance: a stuffed parrot puppet. I would have to assume that this was a required prop that had to be written into the productions. It was used in all of the plays, though some utilized it well while in others, it seemed more like an afterthought. Each actor did an amazing job pulling off their roles in their given production, but the actors of the night would have to go to Josh Searsey and Megan McGehee. Searsey played the recurring man in “The Crazy Hotel Mishap” and was hilarious. He did a wonderful job as he hopped from character to character with ease, leaving the audience in stitches. McGehee played Avery in “Flux,” and her performance gave me literal chills. From her earth-shattering scream to her broken remorse, McGehee fully embraced her character and brought her to life.
The 24-hour Theater Project took place over February eighth and ninth and the performance took place in the Kelly Auditorium at eight o’clock on the ninth. It was presented by the Bethel University Department of Theatre. Admission was free and open to the public. If you missed this amazing opportunity, another chance will appear this upcoming fall (2020), though dates have not been released yet.