Q&A with producers of student-written “Quickies”
This week, justArts spoke with Emily Galloway ’18 and Halley Saul ’17, the producers of Brandeis Ensemble Theater’s annual show, “Quickies.” This year, the ten-minute play festival consists of nine mini-productions, all written and directed by undergraduate students. “Quickies” will take place this Sunday at 8 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater. We spoke with the producers to get a sense of what producing this fast and furious show is like:
justArts: If it does, how does producing a show like “Quickies” differ from producing a conventional theater production?
Halley Saul: It’s a lot more coordinating individuals, I feel like.
Emily Galloway: I feel like it’s completely different — I don’t know if it’s necessarily easier or harder or whatever. It’s probably a little easier because it’s not as long of a time commitment. But just, you know, in a show, everyone, is kind of all in one place, and there’s one director that you can talk to, and there’s one person that does each job. But for this, we have ten directors and nine different shows and forty-something cast members.
HS: 43, I believe. And then we also have the production staff, who needed to also individually reach out to every single director and get the individual designs. So it’s a lot of just, like, everybody’s in a different place, and you have to know where everyone is.
JA: What has been or what do you foresee will be the most challenging part of producing “Quickies”?
EG: I don’t know. I don’t think we’ve had any, really huge challenges overall.
HS: There have been,, minor miscommunications, surely. But that’s inevitable.
EG: I think the hardest part so far — and not to say that it wasn’t necessarily a big challenge — but just casting the shows was just a very long process. And it can be a little bit difficult because when you’re trying to get ten directors to sit in for auditions, there’s [going to] be people who can’t be there the whole time.
And so figuring all of that out and getting everyone into a Quickie, because we try to be all-inclusive — and we were successful this semester in being all-inclusive with Quickies — so getting everyone who auditions into a part can be challenging.
JA: Were the scripts already written before you cast?
HS: Yes. So what we do is we have an admissions process. This year it took place in late November, where anyone who wants to write a short one-act can submit it to us. And we, of course, have to vet them and make sure they’re appropriate for the stage etc. but yeah, they’re all written beforehand.
JA: So how do you make sure you get everyone who auditions into a piece?
EG: Well this year we were lucky because we had a few shows that have the ability to create an ensemble. There’s one show that’s about meth-heads …
HS: There are all of these people in the background that are sort of like eyes watching it go on, and it’s supposed to add to the paranoia.
EG: And so things like that can help. But I know, like, in the past when there haven’t been necessarily shows that were written with bigger ensembles, they do a lot of role splitting. So they say, “okay so this police officer says seven lines — let’s split it into two.” …
HS: Which is also something that definitely happened for this production.
JA: What has been the aspect that you have most enjoyed while producing “Quickies”?
EG: I think the two of [us] as well as — we have another core coordinator who was involved last semester—Morgan Winters [’17] … like last semester when she was here she was obviously a very equally big part of going through the plays that were submitted and picking directors and all that stuff. … So just — I don’t know — I think just like working together and really seeing what can happen when you put good minds together. It’s really been a really good experience.
HS: I’ve definitely gone into three-hour brainstorming sessions with them and come out and just had a smile on my face even though it’s, like, one o’clock in the morning. Just ’cause, even though we’re doing the work and we’re obviously coordinating this huge production or whatever, we’re also making sure that we’re having a good time and that the content and the form is enjoyable.
JA: Was there anything you specifically did differently this year as compared to previous years?
HS: Right off the bat. Last year, “Quickies” was on December 8th, which was the last week right before finals.
EG: It has always been [that week].
HS: That has been the precedent since the beginning of “Quickies.” And we changed that this year to the beginning of the spring semester.
EG: We wanted to because in the [Undergraduate Theater Collective], the 24-Hour Musical kicks off the fall semester as an all-inclusive event for people to get involved on campus. And so we thought that moving “Quickies” to the spring semester might —
HS: Do the same thing, because there was no opportunity for all-inclusive low-commitment theater in the spring. And midyears who came in and wanted to get involved in the UTC but weren’t sure of the commitment level didn’t have the opportunity to do so. So
by moving it, we created — I don’t want to say that it’s the same thing. It’s not a second 24-Hour. It’s not that. But it gives the same benefits, and it provides the same opportunities in another semester.
Editor’s Note: The third named producer, Morgan Winters ’17, is abroad this semester
*An earlier version of this article named the theater group hosting "Quickies" as "Brandeis Theater Ensemble." The correct name is Brandeis Ensemble Theater.