Students host 24-hour theatre competition

Students host 24-hour theatre competition

By Caroline Smith | Staff Reporter

Stakes were high for student actors and writers this weekend as teams of five rushed to create 10-minute-long performances with a 24-hour timer ticking in the back of their minds. 

On Saturday, Crimson Stage hosted Between the Lines, the first 24-hour performance festival our university has seen. This high-stress, low-stakes environment served as a learning experience for all involved.

“It’s an opportunity to learn and grow and push yourself,” said Zach Stotlz, a third-year acting graduate student who functioned as one of the festival’s hosts and captains. “We learn the most under crisis, and this is the most fun crisis you have available. It’s a controlled crisis. It’s a storm in a bottle.”

Each team was randomly assigned an opening line, closing line and prop at 5 p.m. on Jan. 26. They performed their pieces at 6 p.m. the following evening in the Allen Bales Theatre in front of a live audience and a panel of three judges. 

“Because [Crimson Stage] is an up-and-coming organization, we wanted to start with something that would be really fun and that would get people involved not only in what we’re trying to do, which is to produce students’ work, but also, to get more people involved in the organization,” said Emma Wagner, a junior musical theatre major who heads Crimson Stage’s marketing and fundraising committee. 

The goal of Crimson Stage is to provide an easier avenue for students to create and produce performing art. This event showcased the organization’s objective. Students were equipped with rehearsal space, a performance space and an audience to help their ideas become a reality. 

“Crimson Stage is my Capstone Project,” said Britt Mahan, a third-year art management graduate student who functions as the administrator of Crimson Stage. “Something I’ve been working on this whole school year is to pull together a student organization that really focuses on student-led work and really allowing theatre and dance students at the University to become self-sufficient artists, to be able to do whatever it is they want to do that they can’t otherwise do in the settings we have currently.”

Two teams took home prizes at the end of the night. The Judges’ Choice winner was “Staging a Coup” by Elizabeth Thiel, Monroe Smith, Chris Ciulla, Dayle Warkentin and Sarah Grace Valleroy. They were awarded a $40 cash prize. “Birds,” created by Seth Eriksen, Alaric Rohl, Elizabeth Blewitt, Emily Haynes and Alex Lay, took home the Audience Choice prize, which was comprised of complimentary tickets to one of the theatre and dance department’s productions this semester.

Mahan described the pieces and what made them so special.

“[Staging a Coup] was about two friends trying to find their way in the world and getting through past trauma by leaning on each other, another friend and an old stuffed animal,” Mahan said. “This one won for its realism and strong polish for creation in 24 hours. [Birds] was essentially a little girl moving through different environments in her imagination while playing at grandma’s house, and the adventures she had along the way. This won for its comedic timing, energy and creativity, I would say.”

Kennedy Park, a freshman theatre and news media major, serves on the marketing and fundraising committee for Crimson Stage. She weighed in on what the event meant to her as an underclassman.

“As a freshman, sometimes it’s hard knowing what you want to be involved in because you’re not in the right place at the right time to know about it,” Park said. “But, when you are, it’s amazing, and bit by bit, you start to figure out where you belong. It’s events like these where you start to understand what you want to do with your life and who you want to be around.”

Editor's note: Elizabeth Thiel is the assistant culture editor of The Crimson White. She was not involved in the editing of this piece.

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