A full house packed the Lab Theater at OSU’s Withycombe Hall Saturday night. Actors. directors, and playwrights sat to one side talking and laughing as audience members filed in. The house lights dimmed.
The annual Play in a Day performances were about to begin.
Play in a Day is an annual collaborative event with students of LBCC’s Black Curtain Society Theatre club and OSU’s Masque and Dagger Theatre club. Ten-minute original one-act plays are written, directed, rehearsed and performed by 25 students all within a 24-hour period. Performances took place Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m.
“This event levels the playing ground, everything is decided randomly,” said Tinamarie Ivey, LBCC’s theatre club student advisor and creator of the event, as she introduced the program.
Ivey explained to the audience how the process worked.
The night before the performance the theme was chosen out of a hat. The playwrights then received their gender combination and hurried off to write the play overnight. Next morning at 9 a.m. playwrights returned with a play in hand. After that, they picked their director out of the hat, and directors picked their actors out of the hat. Then all day Saturday directors and actors rehearsed until the evening when all five plays were performed.
“Students are always intimidated at first, and then they’re always super glad that they did it. That none of these plays existed 24 hours ago is pretty incredible,” said Elizabeth Helman, OSU’s theatre club student advisor.
Play in a Day was started by Ivey and LBCC theatre faculty member Dan Stone 13 years ago in northern California with their theater company, Sanctuary Stage. Both faculty members came to Oregon in 2010 to teach for the LBCC theater department and since then Sanctuary Stage has become a permanent foundation of LBCC, and an extension of the campus Theater Department.
Several years ago Ivey and Stone contacted Elizabeth Helman in OSU’s theater department regarding Play in a Day and the two schools began to collaborate. Since then LBCC and OSU have alternated hosting the event each year.
This year’s theme was rivalry. Actors and directors brought to life the playwrights’ scenes written to depict feuding sisters, dog parenting, apocalyptic ponies, and military friends and frenemies using a simple set and a few essential props. The result was five humorous, surprising, and completely entertaining performances.
“It’s fun to watch the director take what I’d written and make it something more than what I had on the page,” said Jalen Todd, an OSU senior theatre major, a playwright who stayed up until 2:30 a.m. writing. “It’s nerve-wracking, but a ton of fun.”
Although rivalry was picked out of the hat, the theme of the night felt more like comradery.
“It’s such a social art, and so fun to see what everyone comes up with,” said Dari Lawrie, an LBCC and OSU graduate and Play in a Day alumnus who came back to take part again this year.
“There are very different levels of experience and abilities and ages all being creative together. It’s a very different way of connecting … magical things can happen.”
The event was free but donations collected were split between the schools’ theatre clubs.