24-Hour Theater Festival showcases student talent

Supportive roommates, curious onlookers and devoted theater geeks filled Ytterboe Lounge on the night of September 19, 2015. 7:30 P.M. marked the performance of the 24-Hour Play Festival, the first Deep End APO venture of the year and a kick-off to another season of student theater at St. Olaf.

The 24-Hour Play Festival is a tradition at St. Olaf. Participants begin working on their projects Friday the 18th at 6:00 P.M., worked for four hours and then reconvened on Saturday afternoon to finish their projects. Each 24-Hour Play Festival has a theme and three quotes, at least two of which must be used in each production. This year the theme was Hall Sports, and the quotes were “I just wish Old Main was farther away,” “I need you like I need guac in the tortilla line” and “You gotta go put some berry in that schnitzel.”

Sixteen actors split into three groups participated in this year’s festivities. The first group, Yo Mama, was a quartet featuring Sarina Wolbeck ‘18, Peter Cunniff ‘19, Tyler Seufert ’19, Danny Vojack, and Anya Fairchild ’19. Their production was entitled “Tissue Issues” and told the story of a St. Olaf student body snowed into their residence halls, with dorms fighting each other for supplies — tissues included, as one might guess. Yo Mama filled their dialogue with funny and topical one-liners referencing tropes that any audience member would understand, such as the fact that Kildahl rooms are tiny and college students tend to take selfies before any event, maybe even including a battle between dorms to regain tissues.

Second, Swaggin’ Dragons performed, made up of Julia Pilkington ‘17, Julia Woodring ‘19, Avery Baker ‘19, Aaron Lauby ‘19, Josh Horst ’19, and Davis Nemmers ’19. “Interdisciplinary Relations” focused on a competition to figure out who set fire to the gym. What stood out the most were the memorable characters, including a quirky math professor named Randall (that’s Ran-dull, not Ran-doll) and an inebriated football coach. This middle portion of the show drew heavily on the sports part of hall sports, with a training montage and a slow-motion race scene.

Then Terrestrial Whale Sharks closed the trio. Emery Rankin-Utevsky ‘18, Paulo Gladney ‘19, Bjorn Long ‘19, Melanie Thompson ‘19 and Holly Ness ‘19 starred in “Marco Paulo and the Goblet of Hall Sports.” It was fitting that this piece closed the show as it cohesively blended the residence hall and the athletic aspects of the theme. In the play, Paulo the freshman was drafted by his residential assistant, Barry, into competing in the Mellby 4 Hall Sports Championships. By the end, Paulo had received training from a janitor (and former hall sports champion), victory over “the Overdog,” and even true love.

The nature of the festival’s shorter sketches drew many who might not come to a St. Olaf theater production otherwise. Gabe McAndrews ‘19 attended the Festival to support his roommate, and after seeing Deep End promotion of the event, but came away with more than good roommate points. “Never before have I been enthralled with similarly formatted shows or theater in general, but this show changed my perspective and I may attend more productions.”

Dylan Leonard ‘16 echoed McAndrews. “I attend the occasional play and improv show that is hosted on campus. I have never before been to the 24-hour theater project until this year. I would say that it is likely I will attend more plays throughout the year. Overall I thought the show was hilarious with zany plot lines and hilarious quips.”

It’s a good thing for McAndrews and Leonard, then, that Deep End has much more student theater coming up this year, such as productions from student directors and a show much like the Play Festival, featuring Cards Against Humanity prompts. This event was a delightful way to see up-and-coming theater students and enthusiasts at work, and readers should definitely make time for more Deep End theater in the months to come.