Dan Storfer ’15 and Lu Corporan ’13 looked exhausted as they crisscrossed the stage, making final preparations while a sold-out audience drifted into place in the ’92 Theater last Saturday. Their condition was understandable, alarming as it was; after all, these two were the brains behind Second Stage’s “One Day Plays,” and their task had kept them up for the past thirty-plus hours.
The “One Day Plays” are rapidly becoming a Second Stage tradition. They function, as Corporan explained before the performance, as follows: on Friday night, the coordinators gather, in the ’92 Theater, a huge group of people which is then divided into actors, writers, and directors. After everyone is introduced, the directors and actors go home to (supposedly) sleep. The writers, meanwhile, stay closeted in the ’92, forcing their creativity onto the page until the wee hours of the morning, when scripts are printed. Then the directors arrive, read the scripts, and begin rehearsing with the actors. The shows are given technical support in the afternoon and performed the same evening.
It’s a frenetic pace at which to create art, to be sure, but the results are often hilarious and always entertaining. Seven productions (six plays and one musical) resulted from Saturday’s burst of creativity, each with its own unique flair. They ranged from the almost nonsensically lyrical, like the evening’s opener, “Maybe Polaroids” by Bennett Kirschner ’13, to the joyously exuberant “Fountain Avenue: A Wes Side Story,” the parody musical by Gabe Gordon ’15 and Keelin Ryan ’14 that closed out the evening.
“A Wes Side Story,” parodying “Avenue Q” and other popular musicals, was one of the standouts of the evening, featuring comical puppets and an exquisite and hysterical performance by Beanie Feldstein ’15, one of the rocks of Wesleyan musical theater. Helen Handelman ’16 and Johnny LaZebnik ’16 gave strong performances as the back-up puppets populating the rest of the world, and Naomi Hecht ’15 served as an excellent narrator in the form of a squirrel who watched the evening’s events through a window. The musical, which was directed by Sarah Corey ’15 and Marc Whittington ’14, featured a number of parody songs likely to become Wes classics. After all, who can’t enjoy “The P-Safe Tango” and “To DKE (to DKE, l’chaim)”?
Among the straight plays, “A Treatise on the American Condition” by Matthew Krakaur ’14 and Josh Cohen ’14 was a tour de force of bizarreness and comedy. Mark Popinchalk ’13 and Christian Schneider ’14 gave excellent performances as usual, bouncing off one another’s energy with verve, and Tawni Stoop ’15 was delightfully adrift as Schneider’s younger sister, a girl who had latched on (for unfathomable reasons) to the Funyun-eating, pajama-wearing Popinchalk. This inscrutable character opened the door for such theatrical delights as a one-man rendition of the “Game of Thrones” theme song and one of the best lines of the evening: “I built buildings as far as the eye could see, if you were a near-sighted person.”
“Bourgeoisie Banana” by Solomon Billinkoff ’14 took a more serious turn, though initially very funny (the subject matter involved three roommates, one of whom—played by Matthew Catron ’16—had created a Sims game that is a historically accurate slave plantation). It was also notable as one of the few plays that had a recognizably consistent voice (the other actors were Grace Nix ’15 and Elizabeth Litvitskiy ’15, and it was directed by Coz Deicke ’15).
Simoneil Sarbh ’13, who has a history of excellence in these one-day productions (as well as others), gave a delicious comic turn in “Morey’s Pier” by Margaret Curtis ’16, and Noah Masur ’15 gave—as he is wont to do—an excellent performance in the aforementioned “Maybe Polaroids,” directed by Cicily Gruber ’15. Meanwhile Gabriel Urbina ’13 wrote an excellent prop comedy titled “All In The Manual” that was directed by Chelsea Goldsmith ’13 and featured a strong all-female cast of bomb defusers embodied by Jenna Robbins ’13, Grace Herman-Holland ’15, and Leah Khambata ’14. The play by Cameron Couch ’13, directed by Miranda Haymon ’16, I will shorten to simply “Gravedigger,” but readers should know that it included copious amounts of insanity (in the form of Jahanara Alamgir ’15), as well as a plethora of zombies (in the form of the entire cast, save the enjoyably bumbling protagonist Aaron Plave ’15).
In all, it was a crazed but entertaining evening, made truly heartwarming atthe end: the last (though certainly not least) contributor to this project who must be recognized is, again, Lu Corporan. Corporan is a fixture when it comes to the one-day productions; this semester was his sixth and final time ensuring their production, as the cast fittingly recognized at the close of the evening. Crazed and potentially hallucinatory though the process is, it is undoubtedly a legacy of which Wesleyan theater community to should be proud.