Have you ever wondered if an entire play could be conceived, written, cast, produced, and performed live in 24 hours? If you have, then look no further than Clark University Players’ Society’s fourth annual “Play In A Day.” With six consecutive short plays, CUPS managed to pull off their magic for the fourth time in a row.
Casey Bowers (‘21) spoke about the challenging but fun nature of the project. “Though it is sometimes daunting to put on so many events in one semester, especially with something that takes as much preparation as ‘Play In A Day,’ in my time here it has never been a question if we were going to do it or not,” she asserted. “It is such an exciting way to spend time with friends, introduce new people to our lovely family, and give people the opportunity to try things that they would not try otherwise. It is a hard project, but one of my favorites.”
This year, “Play In A Day” featured an impressive cast and crew. The six writers included Jimmy Jackson, Tim Lucey, Clay Johnson, Will McKeon, Cohen Cohen-Kowan, and Brett Iarrobino. After the formal kickoff ceremony for “Play In A Day” at 9pm, each of the writers were given the chance to begin the writing process. With the last script completed and submitted at 5:17am, the writers had clearly spent time crafting and refining their respective scripts.
Writer Cohen Cohen-Kowan, (‘23) described the rewards and challenges of working in this stylized process: “There is something oddly freeing in a time constraint. You have no chance to say, ‘eh, I’ll get back to that later,’ which really keeps you moving forward. I’d say the biggest challenge, however, is the fact that you have no guarantee that what you’re writing is any good, but no matter what you write it’s gonna get on regardless. It was terrifying!”
With six scripts completed, each of the shows were sent to the directors, allowing them to select one of the six shows they would like to direct. “We all got together at 8:30am and talked over who was looking to do what show. We were a bit indecisive, but after some careful logistics and a coin flip, we came to a decision fairly quickly!” said Jeremy Francou (’22).
Soon enough, each director was paired with a script to direct. Abby Flaherty directed “Elevator Pitch,” Jimmy Jackson directed “Father and Son,” Dylan Parra directed “Talking (Air)Heads,” Alex Sklarz directed “Dazed and Confused,” Erin Frizzell directed “Miles I Travel While I Sleep,” and Jeremy Francour directed “Best Strangers.”
One of the directors, Jimmy Jackson, had both written and directed his show, “Father and Son.” For Jackson, taking on both of these roles at the same time proved to be a very exciting prospect. “Directing my own script was a really immersive experience,” he remarked. “The piece was very personal to me and I felt that. I expressed my emotions, and writing how I wanted the scene to unfold came without extreme difficulty. It’s important to remember that character and emotion is the heart of the scene, but at some point, you have to trust that that’s evident on the page. Therefore, immersing yourself in the environment, and envisioning the lives of these characters becomes the main goal. In short, writing is about emotion and character. Directing is about fully understanding all of that, and finding all sorts of modes of expression.”
With each director assigned to a show, each play was ready to be cast. Auditions started promptly at 9:00am on Saturday, Feb. 22. After each of the cast members had the chance to audition, directors all conferred and casted actors and actresses into specific roles. After arranging their casts, directors began to conduct read-throughs with actors early in the day. A lot of the rehearsal time focused on the line delivery of actors, and bringing the characters of the play to life.
“My favorite part of the process was seeing all of the actors really come into their roles in such a short time,” said Alex Sklarz (‘22). “The cast worked super well as a team and was able to naturally turn the script into an emotive on-stage performance.”
As the directors each helped their individual casts flesh out their roles, actors also focused on trying to find the subtlety in their characters. With only a short lunch break, and an even shorter dinner break, time was of the essence for both directors and actors.
“It was difficult to work out all of the nuances of the character and the lines, because we’re spending so much time constantly rehearsing,” explained Ben Wolff (‘23). “The whole experience is non-stop action and movement, so it was hard to find a time when I could stop and focus on the details.”
Fortunately for the actors, their performances definitely struck a chord with the audience. After the show, lots of applause and cheers were heard from the audience, as the actors and directors of “Play In A Day” made their way on stage. While onstage, the actors and directors made sure to also pay tribute to the excellent production crew as well, who were located in the upper booth of the Michelson Theatre.
The production team definitely got well-deserved attention. From quickly getting a dozen balloons for the show, “Talking (Air)Heads,” to recording all of the light and sound cues for all six shows, the production crew this year was definitely a strong team.
“We coordinated by talking through when each cue was in the script with each other, the stage manager, and each director,” said Maya Krantz (‘21). “We also did something called cue-to-cue which is when we do short run throughs of when each lighting or sound cue happens.”
When all is said and done, it was the people of CUPS who made this year’s “A Play In A Day” the success it turned out to be. Now we can only imagine what Clark University Player’s Society will do next year. If they could put on six short plays in twenty four hours, who’s to say what they will do next!