The Final Hour: A Review of Theatre in a Day at The Schwartz Center

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January 24, 2015 marked the return of Theatre in a Day at Cornell University’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. 

Overall, it was an enjoyable performance coordinated by over 40 Cornell students in a commendable tradition of devising what I can only describe as near-instant theater.

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For those unfamiliar with the event, Theatre in a Day is performed each semester, typically in the Schwartz Center’s Black Box Theater. It was previously named The 24-Hour Playfest but was recently given a fresh title due to copyright concerns. For each show, a small body of Cornell students come together to write, audition, direct, block, rehearse, and perform a set of several 10+ minute short plays within 24 hours of the performance’s opening. To ensure that writers don’t come in with pre-written material (and also to encourage creativity and zaniness), each show has a theme and a twist which must be incorporated into each of the short plays and is only announced to the students when they first meet 24 hours before the show.

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As a result of this experiment, Theatre in a Day produces several interesting works with the diligent effort of participating Cornellians. This year, five plays were featured in the production, all of which took a comedic spin on the show’s theme (film) and twist (dance). While some performances’ duration were a little longer than ideal (cutting scripts is difficult in a time crunch, after all),  the performances overall were entertaining and featured several familiar talents among its actors/actresses, directors, and writers.

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Seating was limited to 72 audience members and, since the show was free, the production followed a “first come, first serve” policy. This policy was especially critical for anyone who wanted to attend. Not only did the production pack a full house, but its line began almost a full hour before the show even started!

With the success of this semester’s Theatre in a Day, I highly suspect it will return next semester with a whole new set and cast. This year, Theatre in a Day was part of the Department of Performing and Media Arts’ collection of performance, #150events. #150events is the department’s contribution to the university’s campus-wide celebration of Cornell University’s sesquicentennial year. It includes the department’s regular performances during the academic year in addition to several new programs and productions added specifically for this special line-up.  For more information about these events, see pma.cornell.edu/150events.

IMG_0059Theatre in a Day and its related productions in the #150events sequence are incredibly important because they give students in the Department of Performing and Media Arts, as well as students in other majors, opportunities to practically apply techniques they learn in PMA courses and related academic forums. Theatre in a Day is particularly unique because its time commitment for participating students is jammed into 24 hours, instead of the several weeks more common to on-campus productions. This semester, the facebook page of Theatre in a Day boasted that over 40 students participated in some way or another to make the production happen.

That turn-out is not just great; its critical for the advancement of the department. The more students who participate in events like Theatre in a Day, the more students can spread the word about what it’s like to participate in such productions and encourage others to do so as well. Additionally, the department serves its objective of giving its students practical experience to compliment their academic learning–a key and competitive facet to its major.

IMG_0125Luckily, the people at Theatre in a Day allowed me to take a few pictures from my spot in the audience to share here as an illustration of their featured plays. The pictures throughout this article are just a few of those snippets from the show. For due diligence, I will also include at the end of this article the full line-up of plays and participating students so as to better highlight those individuals who made this production possible. Before finishing up this post, however, I want to emphasize for a final time how much I enjoyed the show and issue a final congratulations to the cast. Hope to see you all again in future productions!

 

 

List of Productions and Cast from Theatre in a Day (Spring 2015):

Long List of Ex-Lovers
Written by: Trevor Stankiewicz
Directed by: Sam Morrison
Stage Manager: Sarah Bryne
Cast:
Sophie: Shanti Kumar
Ryan: Alec Newport
Evan: Colin Sears
Danielle/Charlotte/Laura: Carla Perez
Julie/Juliette/Emily/Lisa: Emma Zhu

Bring Back the Oscars
Directed by: Aleksej Aarsaether
Stage Manager: Adriana Guzman
Cast:
Melodrama: Lauren DeLorenzo
Romantic Comedy: Jorge Guevara
Horror: Olivia Howell
Musical: Christian Kelly
Action: Megan Rossetti

Iowa the Intimate
Written by: Oakley Loeb
Directed by: Max Joh-Carnella
Stage Manager: Michaela Barry
Cast:
Indigo: Chisom Awachie
Patrick: Sean Doolittle
Dick Thruster: Author Egitto
Daisy: Grace Gliva
Robin: Jessi Silverman

Dynamite
Written by: Jazlin Gomez
Directed by: Rudy Gerson
Stage Manager: Anca Dogaroiu
Cast:
Producer/Grandma/Lafawnduh: Keisha Target
Regina George: Maple Chen
Johnny Castle: Will Isenberg
Napoleon Dynamite: Kay Wilson

Not Love, Actually
Written by: Rachel Ellicott
Directed by: Alexander Quilty
Stage Manager: Matthew Lam
Cast:
Nora/Waitress: Monica Burnett
Jack/Fabio: Evan Needell
Felicia: Ellen Pyne
Brad: Irving Torres

Theatre in a Day was coordinated by Jillian Holch and Claire Stack. Its lighting, sound, and projections were coordinated by Brian Murphy and Sarah Bryne.

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