WiRED plays made in 24 hours

| 2/3/13 11:00pm
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Students wrote, practiced and performed plays from Friday to Saturday night as part of WiRED, a termly 24-hour theater production.
by Cecelia Shao / The Dartmouth

The 24-hour playwriting experience began on Friday night at 8 p.m. when the writer-director pairs heard their unique prompt for the first time. Each team spent the next 12 hours writing a 10 to 20 minute play before actors arrived on Saturday morning. The groups rehearsed all day until 8 p.m. on Saturday, when the plays premiered.

Although spending all night working may sound like a nightmare to some students, the creative atmosphere allows those involved to dabble in performance concepts that they typically do not use.

"It especially gives the writers and directors a chance to experiment with theater because it's only performed once and then it goes away forever," production stage manager Victoria Fox '15 said. "It's really low-stress and just kind of an opportunity for them to play."

While most deadlines are looked upon with dread, WiRED's time constraint makes the experience all the more liberating, participants said. Most plays are written painstakingly over long periods of time, whereas this event requires that writer-director pairs write and make decisions quickly.

"It compresses everything that is awesome about making theater into this high-octane, small, powerful package," Cooper Stimson '13 said. "In compressing the whole process into 24 hours you end up losing all of the weary long-term work aspects but not losing any of the fun parts."

This event does not merely stay behind the curtain. For many audience members, WiRED is their first exposure to brief plays written in an extremely short amount of time.

"It's not a typical play experience," Ying Lin '16 said. "I'd never been to an event like it. It shows that a play doesn't need to be a huge production but it can also be a simple, fun, spontaneous event."

The production also serves as a space for students interested in theater, to whatever degree, to get to know each other and to create a production together.

"WiRED really got me interested in the collaborative process of student theater; it's all about bringing each other's art to life," Jaymes Sanchez '13 said.

Despite the event's many successes, the best experiences always have obstacles, and WiRED is no exception. Most students involved did not experience writer's block but another common enemy: sleep deprivation.

"There's such a restricted time span and your productivity is limited by sleep deprivation, so you kind of need to front-load the architectural element and really nail the character motivations and plot flow relatively early on," Stimson said. "Once it's three in the morning, that's way too complicated to be working on."

Saturday's performance featured three plays, all including a little bit of creepiness, some shock factors and a good amount of laughs from the audience.

The first play, "Don't Judge a Book by its Face," was written and directed by Danny Freeman '13 and Maia Matsushita '13. Elise Smith '13 played the self-obsessed Mia Schwartz who constantly frets over her Facebook stalker, played by Chen Li '14. Her friends Python Smark and Jethro Sandoval, portrayed by Jackson Berler '14 and James Lee '13, respectively, point out her narcissistic ways in real life and in dreams (complete with Southern and British accents). In a hilarious twist of events, the "stalker" turns out to be Jesus Christ, who has only been trying to show Mia the giving nature of people.

Next was a more serious play by Sanchez and Stimson titled "The Way of Escape." It follows Linus, played by Robert Leverett '16, whose brain tells him no, but his heart tells him to murder. Production stage manager Cristy Altamirano '15 played Jessie, Linus' sympathetic and worried wife.

When she leaves in the morning and locks the door, a Jehovah's Witness named Joseph, played by Sanchez, comes in to talk to Linus about resisting temptation. After a dramatic turn, Linus murders Joseph and, after telling Jessie what happened, kills her as well.

"My Brain Says No, but My Heart Says Conquering," written and directed by Ittai Eres '14 and Maan Singh Tinna '13, was a "historical" play featuring Napoleon Bonaparte and the popular Clue board game character Colonel Mustard, played by Hunter Kappel '14 and Liz Neill '13.

Throughout their childhood together, Bonaparte constantly thwarts Colonel "Dijon" Mustard's success. Their mutual friend Karl Schutz, played by Li, tells new girl on the block Brunhilda, played by Molly Hassell '13, that Bonaparte wrote her a note asking her to the freshman dance when in fact Mustard was the real admirer. Bonaparte continues to receive credit for Mustard's brilliant ideas while reaping the benefits. But how will it end? Here's a hint: Colonel Mustard, in the hall, with the revolver.

Each actor delivered an outstanding performance of the clever scripts. Although WiRED coincided with some midterm exams, students should make the time for this original experience.

"My brain says no, but my heart says Go see it!'" Lin said.

WiRED is a termly event presented by the theater department and the Displaced Theater Company.