On September 3, student actors evoked both silent contemplation and boisterous laughter from their audience through stories crafted by student playwrights, transported from paper to the stage by student directors, and produced by Jim Crawford and Elyzabeth Wilder with the help of stage manager and technician, M. L. Lemieux. All this with only 48 hours of preparation. These students and professors behind the second annual “New Plays in 2 Days” wowed an overflowing audience with six original plays soaked with witty humor, thought-provoking dialogue, and moving storylines. The event did not fall short of the anticipation that drove audience members to fill every chair, create new seats on the floor, and even remain on foot to witness a show that proved the pressure of an intense time constraint can bring out the best from creative minds.
Given only 48 hours and working with just a few props, the students behind the event had to write, direct, and carry out their unique performances inspired by the first line of each play, “I told you not to do it.” The stories that stemmed from the statement included a twist on Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night,” the last moment confessions from a detective and cartel leader, a married couple’s dealings with loss, two siblings humorously pointing out each other’s flaws in their respective love lives, the back and forth between a pair of nursing home residents who accidentally locked themselves in a closet while baking marijuana-infused bread, and a cooking duo’s desperation to extract a recipe from a chef they have taken hostage.
With their short time to prepare, all of the involved students used their 10 minute shows to exemplify a factor of creativity that is often overlooked – spontaneity. Rarely do theater patrons have the opportunity to witness a performance shaped from anything less than at least several months of rehearsals. Some of the most popular plays performed today offer their actors centuries of writing, editorials, showings, and dramatic insight to draw from. So, the rawness behind these new plays in the Tennessee Williams Center not only kept audience members on the edges of their seats – or on the tips of their toes in the cases of those who managed to squeeze in by the door for the exciting event – but were simply refreshing. Those who did not manage to make it to this year’s showing of the event should mark their calendars as soon as possible for the next to witness the continuation of a beloved new Sewanee tradition.
Photos courtesy of the author.