Quick: create and perform a play!
On Sunday night, the Undergraduate Theater Collective (UTC) presented “Quickies,” the annual festival of student-written short plays. The nine plays were all about 10 minutes long, and were written, produced, directed, designed and acted by students. The format of these performances allow students to get involved in theater, no previous experience or extensive time commitment required. Auditions for “Quickies” were about two or three weeks prior to the showcase followed by a mere two or three rehearsals for students to perfect their short plays.
I was shocked by how remarkably well and quickly the UTC was able to put together these plays. The actors knew their lines and seemed truly immersed in each of their roles; they looked like they were having an amazing time. Some of the actors even laughed as they recited their lines! I could tell that the audience was having a blast as well — students hooted and hollered, ooh-ed and ahh-ed.
The plays were diverse in tone and content. While the plays were largely comedic, the types of humor varied. “A Staircase Full of Trash,” about a group of friends hanging out, and “He’ll Know What It Means,” in which a narrator tells the story of a person who tells friends to relay messages to someone with the assertion that he’ll know what it means, were quirky and felt comparable to sitcoms. “Elvises Are in the Building,” which parodied “The Bachelorette” but with Elvis impersonators, “Paper, Unwritten,” about a procrastinating student, and “A Night on the Job,” which follows a despondent Uber driver driving drunk college students to and from a frat party, were satirical. Meanwhile, the humor of “Ikea Shelf” derived largely from the absurdity and novelty of a student building a shelf onstage.
Some of the plays, however, were more serious in tone. Most notably, despite having its fair share of jokes and comedic moments, “I and Love and You” was dramatic, and even sad at times. The audience ooh-ed at multiple moments during the scene due to the story’s emotional notes. Furthermore, “Inconveniences” had emotional as well as funny moments.
The plays all used the space and resources of the stage creatively. “Hindsight” and “He’ll Know What It Means” featured actors who were sitting in the audience or standing offstage. The creative decision to break the fourth wall made the plays feel more interactive; they literally and metaphorically popped off of the stage.
The play that resonated with me most was “Paper, Unwritten.” Written and directed by the play tells a story as old as time: a student has a paper due tomorrow but there are, unfortunately, not enough hours in the day to write the paper. With midterm season almost in full swing, I would say with confidence that I am not the only student in the audience who started thinking about a paper with a looming due date that I have put off for a tad too long.
“Quickies” was a fun and interesting experience. The event is held annually; if you are interested in being part of a theater production but do not have the time or experience, consider trying out “Quickies” next year. If the stage is not for you, then I recommend attending the showcase with friends instead!