Review: 24 Hour Theater
The 24 hour long stretch of time between 8 p.m. of Saturday, Oct. 15 and Sunday, Oct. 16 was jam-packed with the hustle of writing, directing and acting five one-act plays. Actors showed up already in a costume of their choice on Saturday evening, tasking the playwrights to come up with a story around them; the act was also required to feature a magic wand. After hours of rehearsals, Student Theatre Arts Group for Equity (S.T.A.G.E.) opened the doors of Putnam Studio in the M. Lee Pelton Theatre building on campus at 7 p.m. Sunday evening to welcome an eager audience to their showcase.
The first play, “Age-Old Question,” written by Ike Turman and directed by Sophie Files, featured four immortal characters who banded together to try and diffuse a bomb. The characters seemed reluctant to do this task, and had some witty banter as they tried to figure out how to diffuse it. The theme of magic wand had an integral part in the act, with the bomb eventually magically disappeared by Gray (played by Nur Yuceoral).
Turman, the mind behind “Age-Old Question” said: “It felt really cool to get to apply my writing to something… not very often do big projects come along where people can collaborate with bringing their strengths together as opposed to individualistic approaches. People get boxed into things they don’t want to be in, but here everyone got to bring strengths and the end result was a collaborative effort where you could see everyone’s artistic methods on display,” he said. Sophie Files was the director of “Age-Old Question” and said that directing the act was very chaotic. They expressed their need for sleep, but also their pride for their actors.
The second play, “This is a Satchel,” written by River Hosten and directed by Elliott Alongi, was set within the familiar walls of Baxter Hall. The whole play enjoyed the noise of laughter from the audience—a jab at the recent gas leak in the complex elicited an especially large reaction. Olle Wurtzel played Olle, who donned a heavy Russian accent that made the already funny lines even funnier. Haley (played by Haley Jarvis) and her roommate Lani (played by Lani Southern) perfectly presented the air of amicable roommates. However, it was revealed that the siblings' parents were responsible for the death of Lani’s parents, and she sought revenge by becoming Haley’s roommate to kill her and her brother. Luckily, Haley was able to escape and free Olle before it was too late. The mundane feel of regular college life combined with the plot twist made for a comedic and gripping act overall.
“This is a Satchel” actor Haley Jarvis found the experience to be really fun—everybody was very supportive of each other, she said. She added that it was a great community bonding event, and that anybody should consider doing 24 Hour Theatre, even if they have never done anything related to theatre before. It allows people to explore different avenues of theatre, like directing, writing, etcetera, she said. Fellow “This is a Satchel” actor Lani Southern was proud to say that this was her third time doing 24 Hour Theatre. It is always a lot of fun; most things are silly in 24 Hour Theatre, she said.
The third play, “Happy Birthday,” written by Caleb Larson and directed by Ella Stringer, took a more emotional route but kept up with the theme of plot twists. The play began with Vivian (played by Tori Purpura) watching silently from a desk as April (played by Fracesca Finch) sobbed to the ground about her neglectful mother. Vivian invited April to her house, where she began to slip and reveal her true motives of using April as a replacement for her late daughter Chloe. April’s fear was quite palpable, but I found the whole concept to be a little predictable. However, I commend the knife fighting scene, which was just the right amount of intense.
Next up was “Baron Mind,” written by Vincent Schillings and directed by Irislyn Monteith. The play began with a comedic sequence of emails read out loud by their writers, Olga Hanford (played by Margareth Ramos) and Geoff Davis (played by Noah Mendel). It seemed to be your casual workplace dispute comedy, until ghost Horace Hanford (played by Chase Pyne) appeared after being summoned by the phrase “It wouldn’t hurt to be a bit more spirited” and a wand of power. It was then revealed that he was Olga’s great-great-great-grandfather. After reading aloud a family story about a monkey and teaching Olga how to optimize her power in the workplace, Horace left. What stood out to me the most was the unabashed promotion of Oregon American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which was funny and memorable in its repetition and singing of the organization’s phone number, which for the record is 503-232-1195.
“Baron Mind” playwright Vincent Schillings described the writing process as a haze. Schillings had begun writing the act at 11 p.m. Saturday evening and was back at his dorm at 4 a.m. Sunday morning. Chase Pyne, aka Horace Hanford in “Baron Mind,” summarized his 24 hour theatre experience as both terrifying and amazing. He had had no prior experience in theatre, but his nerves were not visible on stage. He was surprisingly not that tired after the show, Pyne said.
The final play was titled “Arcane Arcade,” written by Anna Burns and directed by Lily Walsh. The act was short but eventful, as two friends discovered a magic wand within the floor of an abandoned arcade. The sudden flickering of lights accompanied the voice of the owner of the wand—a spellcaster—who demanded it be returned to them and snatched it back to the right part of the universe. The music was a nice touch, and the concept of having a voice offstage was interesting, and I think the desired mystical effect was achieved.
The sheer range of emotions that was able to be configured and displayed all within 24 hours was a feat that I believe the entire cast and crew of the event should be proud of. The reactions from the audience were a great addition to the comfortable and casual atmosphere of the night, and the sense of community extended past the stage. I would say that this is one Willamette event you do not want to miss out on—whether you prefer working on the productions or would rather be in the audience, Putnam Studio is the place to be on 24 Hour Theatre night.