BET brings Quickies back to Brandeis
This Sunday, Brandeis Ensemble Theater will bring its fourth annual Quickies Festival to the Carl J. Shapiro Theater. The evening will feature six original one-act plays written, directed and acted by Brandeis students.Despite the festival's name, the process of bringing these works to the stage has been anything but brief. Starting last school year, writes co-producer Becca Freifeld '10 in an e-mail to the Justice, "We spent the semester soliciting one-acts from the whole campus by sending out emails to all the listservs we could think of-all the UTC groups, English majors/minors, Creative Writing majors/minors, Theater majors/minors, and Prof. Ryan McKittrick's (THA) playwriting class." This thorough effort yielded 16 submissions by the deadline this year, a number that was then whittled down to the final six.
The rush to participate can be explained by the festival's easygoing reputation. "Quickies gives people the opportunity to see their work produced and performed on stage without the nervousness and constant workshopping that goes with a full-length production," explains Freifeld. Director Dan Katz '12 agrees, mentioning that "It'll be, like, a 10-hour process as opposed to four hours a night" of rehearsal. "Because it's a shorter play you can play with it more," he adds.
As an example of this innovation, Katz cast Marti Dembowitz '10 as the Grim Reaper in Because I Could Not Stop For Death even though writer Patrick Mullen's '12 script called for a man in the role. "When people think of death, they think of a male character. I wanted to put a little twist on it," he explains.
Katz describes the play as "a comedy that humanizes the Grim Reaper." Indeed, many of the Quickies playwrights offer up a lighter take on potentially dark situations. Andrew Litwin's '11 52% is "a farce, full of misunderstandings and physical humor" about a man who works as both a marriage counselor and divorce lawyer, according to the play's director, Rachel Kelmenson '13. Kelmenson co-wrote The Mourning After with Rachel Garbus '13, and describes it as "a very silly, odd scene" about a married couple's argument in the aftermath of a funeral.
Zohar Fuller '10, on the other hand, promises that her contribution, Interpretive Art, is "a drama, and not the most relaxing." She wrote the play, which she says is about "an artist's responsibility to her fans," for a playwriting class and then revised it for submission to Quickies.
Other writers found that they worked better under pressure. Kelmenson recalls that she and Garbus were feverishly writing until 5 a.m. in order to submit their play by the deadline. "Most of the dialogue was written by Rachel and I just sitting and improvising a scene together for several minutes, then trying to write down what we said. As a result, the dialogue feels quick and natural," she says.
Whatever their method, most of the writers express eagerness to let the directors apply their creative vision. Fuller says she hasn't been too involved in the production process of Interpretive Art, directed by Aaron Arbiter '10. "Part of me wants to just be surprised, see how it goes," she says.
Instead, Fuller is focusing on her acting role in The Spring Ahead, a Quickie written by Sujin Shin '13. Similarly, Garbus is hard at work directing Oopsie, a play written by Nathan Hakimi '11, which will star 52% playwright Litwin. Hakimi, meanwhile, will also act in The Spring Ahead. The complex web of participation reveals the devotion of many students to this "extra burst of theater at the end of a long semester," as Kelmenson puts it.
The Quickies audience can expect a bare-bones production as casts cycle on and off the stage every 10 minutes or so. "You take away the set, you take away the props. It's really about the acting," explains Katz.
Editor's note: Justice staff writers Sujin Shin '13 and Aaron Arbiter '10 are participating in the Quickies festival.