Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Theater department gears up for Instant Play Festival

For one weekend in September, the Whitman theater department will throw caution into the wind and produce fourteen shows in the span of less than 48 hours.

Credit: Marie von Hafften

Whitman Drama’s annual Instant Play Festival, entering its fourth year, has become an anticipated tradition among many in the Whitman community. In the three weeks leading up to the festival, students work with different professional playwrights to learn the basics about various facets of writing a play.

On Friday, Sept. 23, the student playwrights are given three prompts. Beginning their work at 9 p.m. and ending the next morning, the students must write a 10-minute play incorporating the different ideas given to them in the prompts. The morning of Saturday, Sept. 24, volunteer actors, directors and crew members convene at the Harper Joy Theater and get to work on putting together seven shows by 8 p.m. that evening: a process that is repeated the following day.

Due to the fast-paced nature of the festival, everyone involved must be able to think quickly.

“Everybody has to make fast choices and just go with them,” said Professor Kristen Kosmas, one of the professional playwrights and the producer of this year’s festival. “Everyone has to work with a lot of limitations.”

Credit: Marie von Hafften

“It really makes people follow their instincts and get creative,” said senior Mackenzie Gerringer in an email. Gerringer is the stage manager working alongside Kosmas.

The festival differs from typical Whitman theater productions in that anyone in the community, including faculty and staff, can sign up to act in one of the plays on one or both days of the event. Each director must cast his or her show from the group of actors they are assigned. Many of the necessary preparations must be done on the day of the festival, which potentially results in nerve-wracking situations.

“I’m totally stressing about it!” said sophomore Janaki Phillips, the festival’s lighting designer.

Nearly one hundred people in the Whitman community have signed up to volunteer in one capacity or another during the weekend. The festival offers playwrights a unique chance to see their work performed in public, maybe for the first time.

“In the theater department, everyone knows the writers, and just seeing what they come up with is just really awesome,” said Phillips.

For the theater community, the festival is an opportunity to let loose and have some fun.

“It’s a remarkably joyful event,” Kosmas said. “There’s just a terrifically delightful energy around it.”

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