Abbey Players produce 5 news plays overnight in 24-hour festival


Courtesy/Brenna Del Llano

Claire Newhall, Maeve Murray, and Hayden Rogers in “The Emperor and Empress

Flannery Moore, Culture Editor

What happens when you divide the Abbey Players into groups and give them a deadline 24 hours later to have a one-act play onstage in Koonz Theater? You get a hectic night and day ending in the performances of five wildly different 10-minute plays.  

Senior Sean Thompson served as one of five directors for the festival. When asked to describe his experience, he said, “On Friday evening we got assigned a writer and we got a cast and a rehearsal location. And then on Saturday I was in charge of making the rehearsal schedule, blocking the scenes, and helping the actors make the characters come alive off the page.” 

Directors were randomly paired with writers, and actors’ names were picked out of a hat to be divided among the director and writer teams. Writers were given until 4 a.m. on Saturday to submit a play, then directors and actors started rehearsals between 8-10 a.m. Four producers – senior Brenna del Llano and sophomores Kayla Panagrosso, Bridget Donovan, and Mia Tidd –  oversaw the festival. 

When asked to describe her role in the festival, del Llano said, “As a producer, it was my job to touch base with all people involved and make sure they were prepared for the 24 hour day to come. There were 4 producers total, and we all split the responsibilities and worked through the technical aspects of the show, sets, costumes, etc. We also created the concept of the show together, and decided how we wanted to randomly assign writers, directors and actors to work with each other to create 5 unique shows.”

At 8 p.m. on Saturday the 26th, the festival opened with “A Sea Full of Stars,” the most dramatic of the five pieces. Written by Julia Bard, the play portrayed three girls sharing a last hour together before launching themselves into space on escape pods, unsure if they’ll ever be reunited. 

This was followed with “The Lighthouse Oardeal” – by Meg Query, featuring a wacky lighthouse keeper who speaks only in reel-y bad nautical puns and a ship captain desperately trying to pass the lighthouse.   

Ever wondered what happened to the main figures in songs such as “Hey There Delilah” and “Stacy’s Mom”? “Life After the Lights,” by Bryan Lavoie, depicted a support group meeting for all of the above and more, held in the basement of a Planet Fitness (a judgment free zone.)

“On the Cutting Room Floor” – Ever wondered what would have happened if Nemo hadn’t touched the butt? Or if Darth Vader and Luke had simply hugged it out after realizing they were father and son? Ryan McDonough attempted to answer this in a series of short skits featuring characters from well-known movies.  

The festival closed with “The Emperor and the Empress,” written by Connor O’Neill. Directed by Thompson, the play was described by him as the “story of a fantasy realm, describing their history, told through the eyes of the three bards, who were like the witches manipulating events in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.”

When asked for his favorite parts of the experience, Thompson said, “Really watching the actors have fun with it. While it’s a long, exhausting, and can be stressful day at times, seeing them have fun and watching their creative side flow was my favorite part,” adding that “really just watching them connect with their characters and with each other” was a highlight for him. 

When asked to describe their overall experiences, Thompson said “Exciting. Nerve-racking. Proud,” and del Llano said “Hectic, impressive and rewarding.” Each of these words sums up the spirit of the festival. 

Del Llano added, “This was a great experience for people who are really involved on campus because there was not as much of a commitment as other Abbey Players events,” encouraging potential members of the Abbey Players to take the leap next year and sign up for the 24-hour festival.