PROVO — A year ago, I reviewed BYU Experimental Theater’s 24-hour Project and vowed I wouldn’t miss another. But I missed last fall’s. (They have one each semester, I think.) So when I got the chance to go again tonight for Winter term’s, I was very pleased.
What this project is: writers, directors, and actors audition for the project. Then, on Friday night (last night) at 7 PM the project begins. The writers get their choice of three topics. (We never know what these are. It’d be interesting to find out more about this process.) Then the writer has from 7 PM to 7 AM to write a 10-minute play. By far, the writers have the hardest job, hours-wise. We were told that the writers worked and partied all night long. At 7 AM the directors were given the scripts and gave the scripts to the actors. For the next 12 hours, the actors learned their lines, the directors blocked the actors (five for each play) onstage, and a 10-minute play was created. This is a bold, interesting, challenging project and I’m really amazed at the quality and tightness of these plays. All involved with this project deserve a huge round of applause. Tonight’s selections were:
“Oh My Gouda!” written by Rebecca Ellis and directed by Sarah Kron.
This play started the project off with such a bang, and to be honest, this was the best of the lot, though all the plays were great. I know it sounds like it wouldn’t be that funny, but the storyline is a man and a woman who are international cheese thieves; the man is married to a woman who grew up on a dairy farm and he fell in love with her smell. (“Just like a dairy.”) She doesn’t know he’s a cheese thief until the FBI come in and try to bust him. Does this sound funny or just odd? Don’t answer that. I will tell you. This play was flippin’ (BYU word) hilarious! Kudos to actors Mckenzie Foster, Creytn Crosby, Amy Porter, Jonathan Inman, and Kelsey Lee. All of them did a great job in emphasizing Ellis’s comedy and I thank them for the many laughs I enjoyed watching this play.
“A Time for Salsa,” written by Ariel Mitchell and directed by Jessica Johnson.
This play, while very good, was a little off for me. The storyline is a Jewish family, with the stereotypical Jewish mother (Brittany Strobelt) with a New Yawk accent, pushing her daughter to be a professional dancer, like her successful dancing sister (the sisters played by Ellen Weatherford and Lauren Wilkins). Spencer Campbell played the somewhat underused father to these daughters. A professional Salsa teacher is brought in for the clumsy sister. Brad Witbeck as Rodolfo the teacher by far had the best part and he did great. There were some laughs in this play, but it was a little hard to understand in places. However, overall—good fun.
Though this play was somewhat confusing, I think it was supposed to be, and I mean this in a good way. There were these three explorer-adventure-voyager types (Chauntel Cromarty, Jim Law, and Ashleigh Allan), and I think they were doing some kind of well, exploring. It’s hard to say because the setting was not really clear. (Maybe this took place at the end of the world? I’m not sure.) But the three explorers all seemed to expound deep, meaningful, pseudo-Shakespearean type lines while they were interacting with a married robot couple. The couple, played by Trevor Bird and Cosette Hatch, were really hilarious in their portrayals as these odd non-humans. They made us laugh so much! Good job to all involved.
“Strike Three”, written by Nicholas Adams and directed by Kat Webb.
The storyline of this play was a little confusing, so I’ll just skip trying to explain. The first scene of this play was a woman smacking another woman because she found out about her husband’s affair. This scene didn’t seem to be needed and was too rough for not only the rest of the play, but the audience. There were little kids in the house. The rest of the play was really cute, involving a Canadian foreign exchange student who didn’t know that a blind date wasn’t a date with a blind person. The Canadian, played by Briggs Alsbury, was very endearing and pronounced “Sorry” just like Canadians do. (“Soar-ee.”) This play had lots of laughs and a cute love ending, always a hit with the BYU crowd. Other actors Raquel Williams, Aubree Lyman, Costner Henson, and Wyatt Clegg did well, too.
The storyline of this play was unsettling for me—a demonic possession by a space alien(?) and I admit, that kind of stuff, even in “fun,” freaks me out. Fortunately, Addison Jenkins, who played the character Java, also told us he was getting the heebee jeebees on his arms, and I figured, well, if he can handle it, so can I. Jenkins did great—a very likeable depiction of a big Southern dude. Danny Brown played Bruce Bolton, a guy who ends up saving the world. He didn’t have anything else to do after his nap, so he thought he’d give world saving a try. The rest of the cast: Chelsea Hickman, Amanda Wilkinson, and Lauren Widfeldt were also very good, their timing and facial expressions were great.
A few comments about the event:
- This event took place at 7:30 PM. By 7:15 the auditorium was packed. If you want to see one of these, go early. It’s a fun project, and it’s free—always a bonus to starving students who are interested in dating on the cheap.
- I would have liked to know more about the project—more about the actors, writers, and directors. More about how this all worked. I suppose it’s the actor in me that wants this information. I mean, whenever I go to a show, I know there have been weeks and sometimes months of rehearsal before the show. I’m seeing the finished product. But because this is an experimental project, I’d like more. Just give me more, okay?
- Last year when I went to this, I came home, wrote the review, and “liked” their Facebook page. All day today they posted updates about this project—24 hours to go, 12 hours to go, 10 hours to go. It was really neat. I felt like I was a part of this and my anticipation went pretty high. Please consider “liking” this page, too, so you can be a part of this very important and talented group. https://www.facebook.com/pages/BYU-Experimental-Theatre-Co/136828136360067
- As we walked into the theater, a slideshow with silly facts about all the actors was playing. This wasn’t at last winter’s event and a really fun, cute touch.
Finally, as I did in my review last year, I reiterate that this is a super fun night and you don’t want to miss it. This year they had a performance at 9 PM, so word is spreading! It should. This is a worthwhile endeavor and one I’m glad I get to go to so often.