Many college students have had to engage in at least one late-night study session in preparation for an intense exam. On the evening of Friday, Feb. 10, students burned the midnight oil under a slightly different type of pressure: They needed to write an original script for a play that would be performed the next day, taking inspiration from a selection of random elements that had to be incorporated into the play.
This was only one piece of a new annual 24-hour-event Kirkwood Community College’s theatre department has welcomed to the stage, called InstaPLAY.
Students who signed up decided whether they preferred to act, write or direct a play, and then were randomly assigned to groups of four. Workshops were hosted for the actors and directors, while writers got to work alongside professional Iowan playwrights.
After hours of run-throughs and rehearsals on the first floor of Iowa Hall, all four plays were performed on-stage in Ballantyne Auditorium on the night of Saturday, Feb. 11.
Allison Holmes-Bendixen, one of the event’s coordinators, explained that she and her colleagues felt students needed more opportunities to get involved in theatre.
“We were talking about ideas of ways that we could give students an educational theatre opportunity without doing three full-length productions in an academic year, being mindful of students’ schedules and thinking about ways to do that,” she said.
The event is also a great way to provide opportunities to students who aren’t theatre majors, Holmes-Bendixen noted, due to the omission of an audition process and the short time frame in which it takes place.
Students who attended the event were equally excited about it. Directing major Maddie Corley commented, “We’re all trying things that we’ve never done before, so people who have been actors their entire lives are now playwrights and directors, and people who have been directors are now actors and playwrights. We’re all trying little things that we’ve never actually done before, and within 24 hours.”
She added, “So, it’s a quick, fast-paced thing and there’s no time for perfection, so it’s really just for the fun of things.”