One Day Plays (OPD) returned to the Patrecelli ’92 Theater on Saturday, Sept. 23, kicking off the Spike Tape 2023–24 season. All within the span of 24 hours, students wrote, directed, and performed seven one-act plays. Two to three writers worked on each play from 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22 to 2 a.m. on Saturday, Sep. 23; the directors read over the scripts at 7 a.m.; and actors rehearsed until the doors opened at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“Everyone, whether you’re a writer, a director, an actor, you bring a prop,” Vincent Langan ’24, one of the coordinators, said. “Then we have an altar at the front of the stage of random things from people’s houses. We had wigs, traffic cones, latex gloves, just weird stuff that people could find in their dorm. And that is going to guide the writers into the weirdness of the plays.”
With such a quick turn around, the audience doesn’t really know what to expect when they step into the theater. Standing in the back of the ’92, I looked forward to evaluating the successes and failures of this theatrical experiment. My malicious (journalistic?) alter-ego was disappointed because ODPs proved to be a purely entertaining experience. When I say every play was funny, I mean it, to the point that I was laughing throughout the hour along with the rest of the audience. Each play embraced its own ridiculousness, allowing the audience to do the same. There was no holding back in these plays, from the strangely sexual to the emotionally deranged. This kind of outlandish comedy created an irreverent environment due to the unwavering commitment to the material by the writers, directors, and actors. It allowed the audience to simply laugh with newfound freedom at the shocking and taboo. It really was a treat; if I were to dig deep for a complaint, it’s that the ’92 really should have more seats.
To give an impression of the nature of these plays, I will give a short synopsis of each, though they often meandered into surprising new territory and nuances.
Welcome to Hooters
“Welcome to Hooters”, written by Audrey Chan ’26 and Rachel Zimmerman ’26, was about a girl named Alyssa (Alix Livermore ’24) who goes into her interview at Hooters and realizes her mother (Audrey Chan ’26) is in fact not an accountant, but the manager of said Hooters. An odd dynamic emerges as the hypersexual mother tries to teach her dorky daughter how to serve the “Hooters way.”
This first play—directed by Cas Kauffman ’26—quickly plunged the audience into an irreverent world, beginning a high that would continue throughout the rest of the hour.
The 8,576th Edition of the Wesleyan Argus
“The 8,576th Edition of the Wesleyan Argus” was written by Audrey Nelson ’25 and Malia Detar Cheung ’25 and directed by Danny Dacosta ’24, was especially exciting to me, undercover as I was in the shadows of the ’92, because it was set in the high-stakes situation of an Argus Production, where every Monday and Thursday night we carry the weight of the lengthy title of “oldest student-run bi-weekly newspaper (barring wartime and pandemics)” on our backs. This play depicts a dystopia in which the writers of The Argus crack under the pressure and go on strike.
“For too long, we have been unpaid, overworked and forced to perform every Monday and Thursday night for a campus deeply unappreciative of our creative energy,” protested one of the Argus writer characters (Jeremy Sherman ’24).
Luckily for the Supreme Editor (Yumiko Takahashi ’25) of The Argus, a title supposedly referencing the great power and majesty of our editors-in-chief, a guy called Chad Giupetti (also Sherman) shows up, asking if we need help writing and producing wordy articles in just moments. Naturally, the play concludes with the AI (Chat GPT—get it?) and the Supreme Editor falling in love, with great bounds of Argus-charged tension between them. This play truly captured the energy of The Argus and the characteristics and personalities that emerge from its pressures.
“Generic sophomore who shoulders the emotional labor of the entire Argus,” the Supreme Editor says of her striking writers. “Overexcited freshmen to write an investigative piece on the WSA…. Established staff writer who turns out reliable content twice a week at the expense of your social life.”
Fun game: Try to find each of these writers in this week’s edition.
In an interview with the writers of this play that felt a little meta, Nelson and Cheung described their experience with One Day Plays.
“It was so fun,” Nelson said. “It was like you were producing something without judging it…. The more stupid you make it the more laughs you’re going to get, so the pressure’s off.”
“Smoke Bud” was written by Liv Snow ’25 and Jacob Silberman-Baron ’25 and directed by Henry Owens ’25. This third play approached comedy by playing with the sincere emotional depths of its characters. The goth, weed-smoking little sister (Francisca Wijaya ’27) and the dumb, but sweet, athlete older brother (River Isleib ’27) were hyperbolized, their contrast already hilarious. After a lot of suspense, the younger sister helps her older brother come out and have his first experience with weed: a very Wesleyan happy ending. This play and the others were very good at catering to their audience, and I always felt in on the joke.
“Mary-Jane” was written by Ali Eckstein ’26 and Josie Schiff ’26 and directed by Phoebe Levitsky ’26. This fourth play was about two schoolgirl scientists (Mari Tall 26 and Eliana Bloomfield ’25) who accidentally summon Mary Jane and go on a spiritual adventure to NASA with her. Mary Jane, in a few ways, was on an entirely different planet to the girls, mostly because she was a voice that echoed through the theater rather than an actor onstage. The comedy here was in the dramatic irony. The audience understood the “yeah, man” characterization of Mary Jane, whereas the schoolgirls found her supernatural and wise.
Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk
“Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk” was written by Stuart Conrad ’26, Phoebe Levitsky ’26, and Caitlin Levy ’26 and directed by Katherine Ball ’27. The insanity of this fifth play was so well executed by the actors, who committed to its random oddities so precisely that I didn’t want it to ever end. It commenced with a teenager (Parker Tey ’26) casting a spell consisting of the lyrics to “Milkshake” by Kelis to summon a milk demon (Brynn Heller ’27) with grand schemes to make everyone lactose intolerant. In a flawlessly witchy British accent, the demon oscillated between wickedly demanding the blood of a girl, speaking in the tone of an overly cordial business email, and becoming self-conscious at the quality of her milk-puns. Then the actor removed their hat and became a new character: an insecure, oversharing American teenage girl, whose safety from the witch was now the spell-casting teenager’s responsibility. Perhaps the funniest part was when the actor switched between witch and girl, taking their time to milk the comedy of this action, leaving the other character often frozen or acting at air. At one point while frozen, the actor failed to stifle a giggle, barely audible, that caused a roar of laughter from the audience. This play let me imagine what SNL would be like if it was actually funny enough to make the performers break character, instead of just pretending to.
I’m Your Barista, Duh
“I’m Your Barista, Duh” was written by Daniel Brugger ’26 and Leo Kaplan ’26 and directed by Owen Wiley ’25. This sixth play really took us all the way. Its boldness was so shocking you couldn’t help but laugh. It didn’t bother suggesting, but rather told us: Yes, this Starbucks barista (Cheyenne McClaskey ’26) has a shame kink. I loved the way it pushed the boundaries of propriety and demanded we laugh at these strange and warped characters. It reminded me of a scene from a John Waters movie (re: my last article) and gave the audience the much-needed reassurance that one can fall in love and run away with their stalker. (The lover in this play being Herbert, played by Theo Ballavia-Frank ’27).
A Play About Sex
“A Play About Sex” was written by Joe Greenfield ’24 and Jeremy Meehan ’26 and directed by Hannah Sodickson ’26. The final play portrayed an actor’s greatest fear: That some guy named Gib (Kyra Kushner ’24) who has a crush on you will call you an unserious actor if you don’t perform some highly explicit play with him. Luckily, boundaries are set and the actors perform their lewd lines with libidinous passion—but three feet apart, or, at the climax, standing side by side. The wonderfully executed character-driven and physical comedy of this play was made all the more impressive considering that the multitalented president of Spike Tape and event coordinator, Charlotte George ’24, had to step in at the last minute as an actor.
The One Day Plays were a joy to experience, and I’m not just saying that because of The Argus shoutout (although it’s nice to feel appreciated for once). Langan summarized my feelings about the night nicely.
“It is remarkable, what’s able to get done, and it’s always weird, and it’s always entertaining,” Langan said.
I can’t wait for next year, and congratulations to everyone who took part.
Audrey Nelson is a Staff Writer and Podcast Co-Host for The Argus.
Charlotte Seal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.