If you entered the ’92 Theater last Friday or Saturday, you may have seen several groups of frantic, exhausted students: some performing, some writing, and others just generally losing the battle to sleep deprivation. Such is the struggle of the One Day Plays, in which dozens of students come together to collaboratively create between five and seven short plays.
Michael Darer ’16 and I decided to take on this challenge and spend our evening spewing out the insanity that became “Tinder Is the Night,” in which two women are trapped in an elevator and must use Tinder to attempt their escape.
Our night began at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, with all of the actors, directors, and writers meeting in the ’92 to go over the schedule and learn each others’ names. Following this meeting, the actors and directors left for the night, while the writers had until 5 a.m. to finish their scripts. At 6 a.m., the directors would choose their scripts, and at 7 a.m., the actors would arrive to rehearse until the show began at 8 p.m on Saturday night.
As my writing partner and I descended the slow path to madness, we jotted down notes of our progress. The following is a rough timeline of our sleep-deprived night.
11:18 p.m.: Michael and I find a spot in the ’92, behind the bleachers. The cruel floor is hard to the touch and thus will support the process.
11:30 p.m.: We’ve fleshed out the concept for the most part. I bring Tinder in an elevator. Michael brings the ghost of Walter Cronkite and the “Twilight Zone” framing devices. I imagine that we are both confused.
12:00 a.m.: We have begun writing the script and are about four pages in. In the midst of what I assume to be some sort of caffeinated panic attack, we have written a long, “Twilight-Zone”-esque soliloquy for our story’s narrator, the ghost of Walter Cronkite.
12:05 a.m.: Giggling. I am concerned that everyone else in the area assumes (rightly so) that we are losing our grips on reality.
12:30 a.m.: Eight pages in! We have written almost three of our four Tinder matches: the poet, the exercise freak, and the ghost of Walter Cronkite. The first willingly uses the word “daguerreotype” in conversation, and the second has an obsession with “The Proud Family.” The third is the ghost of a legendary newsman.
12:40 a.m.: I am sitting on Michael, who is lying down on the ground. It is not comfortable, but I do it anyway.
12:50 a.m.: We have finished a rough, rough, rough draft. We take a pee break. There is still a great deal of work to be done.
1:00 a.m.: Having peed, we sit back down and do a read-through. Not only is it too short, but we have a few problems with some of the dialogue. There are, however, no disagreements on the music of Phil Collins. Specifically, that there needs to be a lot of it.
1:15 a.m.: We make a few changes to the dialogue to make sure that our two main characters, Stacy and Tina, don’t seem two-dimensional, and go outside to get some air.
1:25 a.m.: We’re back, and we make more brief dialogue changes. I am growing slightly more delirious.
1:40 a.m.: Another read-through. We decide that we need to expand on some of the more supernatural elements of the play. We’re not sure, at the moment, exactly how.
1:45 a.m.: Some of the main characters’ dialogue bothers us, so we alter it. We also decide that the building in which they are trapped does not have to be in a specific location.
2:00 a.m.: Another bathroom break.
2:15 a.m.: In deciding to double down on the weirder aspects of our script, we come up with a few callbacks to the ghost of Walter Cronkite. Michael comes up with a line that leaves me in stitches.
2:30 a.m.: Our fourth read-through. We’re getting closer by the minute! We’re also getting closer to the inevitable collapse of our sanity. We are giggling more, and I have decided to roll around on the floor.
2:32 a.m.: My back hurts from rolling around on the floor. I stop.
2:45 a.m.: We go through our draft again, trimming dialogue, adding some stage directions and production notes, and, sadly, eliminating Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” It is a choice that I come to regret.
3:00 a.m.: We look through it one last time and send it off! We pack up our stuff and leave the ’92, exhausted. I will wake up at 7:45 and be unable to fall back to sleep.
In the end, we may not have come out with a perfect script, but the director, David Caruso ’18, and actors, Eli Maskin ’17, Jenna Starr ’15, Will Stewart ’17, and Alina Whatley ’18, did a stellar job with what we gave them. Frankly, everyone’s work was incredible, and it was clear at 8 p.m. on that Saturdaynight that everyone involved had such focus and passion in their roles as writers, actors, and directors.
As someone with a very limited background in theater (read: no background), it was a rather surreal experience to see these plays come together in the span of 24 hours. And as someone who’s spent three years looking at the One Day Plays from the outside, I like to think I have a new perspective on bringing this all together. It’s a uniquely collaborative experience, requiring an intense amount of focus. And while I’m certainly not the most focused person in the world, the time limit was almost therapeutic. I didn’t have time to second-guess myself.
Learning to trust in others and, most importantly, myself: This is what makes the One Day Plays such a treat to watch and, now, to have been a part of. Even a week later, I don’t regret it in the slightest.