Students Write, Act, and Direct in 24-Hour Play Festival

Last weekend the 5C student theatre troupe Bottom Line Theatre (BLT) put on the 24-hour Play Festival, where students write, direct, act in, rehearse and perform plays within twenty-four hours. The festival began at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, and plays were performed on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 8 p.m.

The Druids (as BLT members call themselves) are united by their passion for theater. General manager Brendan Gillett PO’14 takes pride in the fact that the company is entirely student-run. He says that the aim of the Druids is to “do as much theater in as many places as possible.”

Daniel Brown PO ’15, writer of the play You Have All Been Selected to Participate in a Social Experiment, said that he spent a lot of time brainstorming with the rest of the cast. They offered random words and Brown in turn wrote down the very first word that came to his mind. This worked very well for the group, according to Brown.

While brainstorming ideas for his play, Potatoes, Gillett compiled a bag of pieces of paper with segments of dialogue written on them. He conceived the play’s plot when he pulled a piece of paper with the line, “But what about the potatoes?,” written on it.

The performances were short one-act plays, and the entire show lasted less than forty-five minutes. The plays were performed outdoors in the courtyard of Pomona’s Seaver Theatre. Several of the actors performed more than one role in the different plays and some of writers and directors took to acting as well.

The festival opened with the play Fairtrade Water, written by Mark Irwin PZ ’14. Fairtrade is set in a restaurant. A couple placing their order ask extremely articulate questions about the kind of water that the restaurant serves, much to the frustration of the waiter who insists on being called a server.

In You Have All Been Selected to Participate in a Social Experiment, written by Brown, an enthusiastic sociologist convinces her student to volunteer for a rather unconventional social experiment. The cast made excellent use of the outdoor stage, with actors surprising the audience by appearing in different areas throughout the audience.

In Prescription Hugs, also by Irwin, a couple visiting a psychotherapist insists that the husband be given prescribed medicine to cure his sleeplessness and non-existent sex-life. The wife is taken aback and vociferously makes her displeasure known when the doctor prescribes the husband to take “Hugs twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening” from strangers.

In the last play, Potatoes, a duo of teenagers steal cigarettes from one of the boys’ mother’s purse. For some unknown reason, the first boy to take a puff dies instantly choking on the smoke. The rest of the play is a repeat of the very same scene in which the boy chokes on the cigarette smoke, but from several different points of view.

Because the plays were performed outdoors in the courtyard, the actors had a lot of room for experimentation. Naomi Bosch PO ’15, an actor in You Have All Been Selected to Participate in a Social Experiment, said that the cast members spent a lot of time “hanging out on the sets” and trying to make as good use of it as possible.

“We had more elaborate plans to have the professor climb the tree, but couldn’t get that done!” Bosch said.