The Orange Coast College Repertory Theatre awed its audiences with its annual showcase of “Plays Made in a Day” over the weekend.
Held in the Drama Lab, OCC thespians took the stage on Saturday to put on small plays that were written, directed and performed all in the span of a day. The real action started 25 hours prior to the show, when the ensemble gathered for the unveiling of the actors, directors, genres, locations, props and themes — all drawn from a hat by each member.
“This will be a fun and hopefully addictive experience,” said Theatre Director Sean Engard.
Once crews were assembled, they drew their genres from the hat with categories like soap opera, crime drama, kung fu and an absurdist play. It was clear that the playwrights had their work cut out for them.
From the moment that the actors, directors and themes were assigned, the playwrights had exactly 12-and-one-half hours to write a 10-minute scene for two actors incorporating the use of a specific prop. This year the prop was an urn.
“I didn't start writing until almost midnight last night,” playwright Micheal Frankeny said the night of the show. “I started really pounding the thing and then it just flowed and I'd go re-read something edit it a bit and just keep moving through.”
His piece, “What Matters Most,” elicited snorts and guffaws from the delighted crowd as they watched Spencer, played by Joshua Flores, Shelly, played by Violette Remington, have a romantic encounter at the DMV.
The play of course included the required urn, this time bearing the ashes of Spencer's deceased grandmother who would have wanted to be with him on the day he attempted his driving test.
Lucy Leon, an actress in the dramatic scene “Soulmate” by Violette Remington, which explored the dark side of celebrity obsession, said it was her first time performing on stage. She said the pressure brought out the best of her.
“Honestly you lose it when you're out there, you get into character mode and everything just kind of disappears and there's the people and you know you have one job to do and that's just to have fun and do your best,” Leon said.
Another scene, Seth Corter’s “A Lesson in Humanity,” featured a face-off between a philanthropist who became an animal oil extractor and a well intending spy. The play elicited shocked laughter from the audience as the absurdity of the plot developed.
“When I write things I just kind of go into a creative trance and whatever comes out is what comes out and that's sort of just what came out. I was inspired by Bondesque situations,” Corter said.
With so little time to prepare the entire show, most of the writers and actors got very little sleep. Despite this, actor Eren Batum delivered a riveting, energetic and forceful portrayal of a villain, all on one hour of sleep.
Batum said that, while he could get into film instead of theater one day, it all has the same elements.
“This is theatre, even if I get into film, even if I do anything else, but breaking it down — it's still the same thing. You're working with emotions. You're working with yourself. You're working with your entire body and it's stressful. it's hard, It's teeth gritting. But it's fun,” Batum said.
From philosophy mixed with kung fu to the murder of a Hollywood starlet at the Oscars, these five scenes took the audience to new heights, proving that creativity truly has no boundaries and even the most random situations can become highly personal and delightfully absurd.