A handful of Mines’ enthusiastic thespians gathered in the Ford building shortly after seven o’clock on Friday, ready to audition to show off talents that each one could bring to the stage. The writers watched the auditions, selected their actors and actresses, and began this semester’s 24-hour Play Festival. In the words of Mines Little Theater President Kari Kron, the festival is a “twenty-four hour production of a play from scratch.” The writers, Maria Deslis and Jared Griffith, had from 7 PM Friday night until 6 AM Saturday morning to turn blank pages into a complete one-act play. Every few hours, Kron would present them with one of seven prompts, such as “you must punch someone,” and “you must reference Harry Potter,” which had to be included in the scripts. Many of the actors stayed the night, to help the writers where they could. Actor Alex Dell looked excited to be there, even though he said he had not “slept this week.” The enthusiasm and high spirits were evidenced by fellow actor Ethan Morton-Gaught, who said that the hardest part was going to be “reinforcing the doors in case of raptor attack.”
At 7 AM Saturday morning, after a hearty serving of sugar, caffeine, and adrenaline, the focus shifted to the actors, who began to memorize their lines and adding their contribution to the play. The actors were also given a prompt. They were required to include rock-paper-scissors somewhere in the production. Then, at 7 PM Saturday night, the curtain lifted on the finale of the festival as the thespians began to perform. Audience members were greeted with cheers from the cast as they entered, their eyes drawn to performers wearing everything from tired looks and enthusiastic smiles to an odd hat and glittery shirt. Kron welcomed the audience, gave a brief description of what the festival entailed, and encouraged those present to come to MLT’s fall productions “Rumors” and “Fools” before launching into the first of two introductory performances designed to prepare the audience for the upcoming productions. Audience members smiled and burst into laughter as Kron and fellow actor Morton-Gaught launched into a role-reversal duet of “A Whole New World.” Dell kept the laughter going as he performed a humorous twist on signing along to Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.” After the performers were warmed up, they launched into the first one-act play, written by Deslis, titled “Everyday Life.” The play followed the story of two ordinary men who had grown tired of ordinary life and decided to spoof reality by acting like two super-powered people, the hero named Big Bang and the villain named LON-CAPA. The two bond over the capture of a sparkly celestial rhino whose rampage they must stop in order to save their home. After successfully imprisoning the rhino, the duo exited the stage and the thespians began an audience-dependent interaction. The performers took ideas and volunteers from the audience as they engaged in two improvisational games, “Subtitles” and “No Arms,” which were given the respective scenarios of “zombie apocalypse in the Serengeti” and “running from the cops into the kitchen.” Finally, the performers took their places to act out Griffith’s brain child, “Full Circle.” The play told the tale of a master of nerdy pick-up lines, Sir Cumference, and the object of his affection, Princess Sigma. The Princess has no desire to be with Sir Cumference, but her parents arranged a marriage between the two, so the Princess disguised herself as Queen Red Box from the land of LON-CAPA. The disguise, however, ultimately backfires and the Princess ends up stuck right back where she started. The audience members burst into applause and left the impromptu theater smiling and laughing.
A love of theater united these unique individuals together for twenty-four hours of sleepless invention and entertainment. When asked what drew her to theater, Deslis responded “I’ve always been incredibly right-brained and creative and I finally found a release for it [in theater] besides painting in my apartment… and random bar fights.” Dell added that “I like making stuff up and I like making stuff up when other people screw their stuff up because it makes making stuff up necessary but hilarious.”