Anyone who has seen theater at Brandeis knows the hard work that theater students put into their performances, with several hours of rehearsal culminating in an elaborate performance. At the beginning of the spring semester, however, students perform plays that have only been rehearsed two or three times — and while they are very impressive, they have the unique element of being performed in under 10 minutes.

“Quickies,” presented by the Undergraduate Theater Collective, is an annual festival of short plays that are written, directed and performed purely by students. “Quickies,” produced by Haia Bchiri ’20 and Karina Wen ’20, were performed on Sunday and consisted of 11 well-crafted short plays. 

The show opened with “The God in the Gaps,” written by Lauren Komer ’21 and directed by Caitlin Crane-Moscowitz ’20 and Emily Bisno ’19. This play starred Kate Kesselman ’19 and Oliver Leeb ’21 arguing about scientific versus religious viewpoints, respectively. While their acting was nothing short of impressive, the show-stealer was Raphael Stigliano ’18, who did not even have a line in the play; while Kesselman bounced a ball up and down to aid her scientific explanations to Leeb, Stigliano did nothing but literally imitate the movements of the ball. Whenever the ball bounced, he jumped to its beat; when it rolled off the stage, he rolled off the stage as well, which was the spark of humor in the performance and kept the audience engaged during the philosophical discussion between Kesselman and Leeb.

While the rest of the plays were all impressive, there were definitely a few standouts. The second performance, titled “No Stars, Don’t See,” written by Otis Fuqua ’19 and also directed by Crane-Moscowitz and Bisno, featured Isaac Ruben ’21 and Ryan Sands ’19, and — ironically — poked fun at journalists who review theater performances. Ruben read aloud several comments like those that have appeared in previous theater reviews, many of which were clearly over-exaggerated, such as a reviewer suggesting that the actor should have been on a block on stage instead of on the ground. Sands acted out the absurdity of these comments — for example, stepping onto a block — as Ruben read them aloud, with hilarious facial expressions to complement the strange critiques.

The most entertaining part of the show was actually not a “Quickie,” but a magic show right before intermission performed by Zack Garrity ’20, which may as well have been a “Quickie” on its own. Garrity started by performing a basic card trick in which he asked an audience volunteer to pick a card from a deck. While Garrity left the theater temporarily, the volunteer revealed to the audience that the card she had picked was the two of spades. Garrity made several purposely failed attempts to figure out the card that had been picked, such as asking audience members to look at the back of their programs, in which under the “special thanks to” section, the “nine of diamonds” was listed. However, it became clear that this was not just a magic show but a prepared skit when Rachel Greene ’20 fell onto the stage and “fainted,” and Sara Kenney ’18 and UTC president Tres Fimmano ’18 came on stage to check on her and call Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps. Within the process, Garrity even asked them to check Greene’s back pocket, in which there was a card — still not the two of spades. Kenney and Fimmano proceeded to have a “fight” over responsibilities in the UTC during which time Fimmano wanted to change his shirt due to Garrity having spilled water on him. Kenney got mad, saying that he already had too many privileges in the UTC and he should not have the privilege to exit the stage to change his shirt. Fimmano became outraged and decided to simply take off his shirt onstage and face his back to the audience — and drawn on his back was the two of spades!

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MONSTER MOTHER: Sam Schulman ’21 plays a daughter frustrated by her mother’s (Rachel Steinberg ’19) partygoing ways. 

The festival culminated in “Mrs. Rudy’s Seventh Period Class,” directed by Sarah Salinger-Mullen ’19 and assistant directed by Abigail Garber ’21, a story devised and created by the directors and cast. The cast in this play was much larger, and featured Jessica Kinsley ’20 telling a bedtime story to her on-stage daughter, Sam Schulman ’21. The story she told was acted out by the remainder of the cast, and was about an experience she had in seventh grade in which she got drunk right before a school dance. She claimed that someone had spiked her punch, and all of the seventh-grade students had a fight while accusing each other of having done it. After breakups, friendships ending and declining dance invitations due to the fight, they still did not find out who spiked the punch. At the end of the play, Schulman asked Kinsley who did spike the punch and Kinsley simply smiled and said goodnight to her daughter, implying that she had actually gotten drunk on her own and her classmates were fighting over nothing.

All of these short plays showed an immense amount of work from the writers, actors and directors alike. They showed that theater can be entertaining regardless of how long a performance is or how much time one spends rehearsing for it. These several short plays were just what the Brandeis community needed on a Sunday night.