Willamette students perform five plays at the 24-hour Theatre Festival
When you watch a production, the cast, crew and creative team have usually had weeks to put together a cohesive show. On Sunday, Sept. 23, the Student Theatre Arts Group for Equity (S.T.A.G.E.) debuted five shows that were written, directed, staged and performed all within the span of 24 hours. At 8:00 p.m., actors showed up in the costumes they would be performing in, forcing the writers to write characters around them. The following evening in Smith Auditorium, they performed.
The first play, “Who is He?”—written by Ike Turman (‘26) and directed by Maddy Maes (‘27)—featured Erik, a Willamette student played by Derec Gregory (‘27), who has become reclusive and obsessed with President Stephen E. Thorsett. Erik’s friend, played by Clare Strode (‘26), tries to pull him out of the obsession. However, Erik's professor, played by Pen Hanks (‘26), tells Erik he is more like Thorsett than he thinks. The play concludes with Erik becoming Thorsett, and the audience learns the “E” stands for Erik. The play left the audience breathless from laughter with its well-timed jokes about Thorsett.
“[The time constraint] kinda forces you to make a lot of bold decisions quickly,” said Maes. “Usually when I direct a full length show that has a normal amount of time to rehearse, we work through things, we try things different ways, we’re watching characters evolve. So I think what was different about this is you only had 12 hours, so you’re just making decisions and being confident.”
The second play, “No Radiohead,”written by Lilly Thies (‘26) and directed by Otis Perrone (‘27), opened with two brothers hosting auditions for their band. The eldest brother Jackson, played by Arlo Craft (‘26), was the lead guitarist and singer of the band, while little brother Petey, played by Valentine Wells (‘27), was in the band without an official role. Before closing down their table, Green, played by Blue Kalmbach (‘27), entered the scene with their instrument of choice, the Schlug: an ancient and magical instrument which takes over the body of the player. The band made a deal with Green to let them play in their band as long as they played “no Radiohead.”
The third play, “Cunnilingus for Christmas,” written by Vincent Shillings (‘26), was, as the title suggests, set on Christmas Eve. The play opened on Lauren, played by Teya Fukuhara (‘27), a high up business woman at Buisness Incorporated, lost in the snow. Andy, played by Iris McClure (‘27), came out of the storm saving Lauren from her plight and insisted Lauren stay at her house for the night, but Lauren refused. Lauren was adamant about getting home to Seattle when she saw Heather, played by Francesca Finch (‘26), who seriously caught her eye. Lauren agreed to stay the night as long as Heather would be there. The audience saw that Heather viewed Andy as more than a friend, but Andy thought of her as a close friend and housemate.
The next play, “Slime and Slime again,” written by Ceph Tronco (‘26) and directed by Vera Sieck (‘26), was a conversation between a detective named Vyctor Jones, played by Miles Wooster (‘27), and a shop owner named Coup Malix, played by Helena Fitzgerald (‘27). Vyctor was hired to investigate the mysterious disappearances of his customers. As the plot unfolded, the audience learned Vyctor was the culprit all along and caught Coup at the end of her wits, leading her to take down his crime ring. The play watched like a murder mystery with many interesting plot twists and funny one line quips from Coup.
Last but not least was “The Picklers Dill-emma,” written by Savanna Starks (‘25) and directed by Kilie Jarnagin (‘27). It opened on an unnamed pickleball player, played by Kendall Morrow (‘24), and an unnamed civilian, played by Hana Garcia (‘27). The Pickleball player turned out to be the Pickle devil, traveling and stealing years off of people’s lives. The civilian revealed themself to be the Pickle God, the Devil's ex. The play culminated in a game between the ex-lovers, with either the banishment of the Pickle Devil or the reunion of the couple, depending on who won.
“You only have a little bit of time to make a performance happen, and I think some of the best decisions can happen when you don't have time to think,” said Jarnagan.
Ultimately, the 24-hour Theatre Festival was a success. All five plays were produced in less than 24 hours and managed to make the audience howl with laughter and swell with emotion.