BWhen theatre student Burke Tagney walks into Valley City State University’s Vangstad Auditorium Friday, he won’t know what to expect. He does know that in just 24 hours, audience will be at their seats in anticipation for a series of plays created in just one day.
Tagney will be a participant in the 24-hour Theatre Extravaganza, which is hosted by VCSU’s Theatre Department and open to the entire community.
Students and community members can arrive at 7 a.m. Friday as either an actor or a writer. Actors should come prepared with a costume and one prop. Writers should come prepared with an open and creative mind, able to write a play based on three randomly-chosen actors.
Russi explained that the actors arrive in the morning in costume and with prop, have their photo taken and then leave for the rest of the day. The writers are given three actors, and they must create a five to 13-minute play of any genre using the actors and their costumes and props.
Writers brainstorm Friday evening for an hour then begin writing. Three VCSU professors from the Department of Communication Arts, Lee Kruger, Dr. Greg Brister and Jennifer Jenness, will meet with writers to provide feedback. Writers should have their scripts done by early morning hours on Saturday.
The writers then give their scripts to directors, and the directors then go to the actors who begin memorizing lines and putting life into characters no later than 8 a.m. Saturday.
Theatre Director Jenni Lou Russi said either directors will be actors appointed from each acting group, or, if there are enough participants, there will be directors who just direct.
Curtains for this unique performance will be drawn Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Vangstad Auditorium.
Tagney, who’s participated in the event as an actor and director in the past, decided he wants to try his hand at writing this year. He says because it’s only a 24-hour commitment, it’s a great way for he and others to try something they might be reluctant to do.
“This is a really good opportunity because it’s just one night, you come out and give your all, but it’s not something that’s a big time commitment; it’s something that you can get out there and experience theatre on a different level,” Tagney said. “I think it really is a good opportunity for those who don’t want the full she-bang.”
Russi said that VCSU athletes who are normally busy with practice and games often take advantage of the extravaganza.
For students, Russi and Tagney agree that the extravaganza is a great experience and a brain exercise.
“This is pressure that then will pay off if these people go out and write,” Russi said.
“It creates that sense of urgency that you need when you go out into the workplace,” Tagney said.
Tagney said last year he came with a banana and fellow theatre student Tony Trautman came with a hula hoop, which resulted in a pretty interesting script from the writer.
Trautman said the first year he participated in the event, he arrived to be a writer but was persuaded to try acting. This year, he plans to roll with whatever is needed.
“(Participating in this event) allows you to see different things about yourself that you won’t even notice,” Tagney said.
Russi started this event in 2009 when she started at VCSU. She based it on similar events she’d done in the past. There, writers stayed all night until they finished, which is what makes this year’s event different than that in previous years at VCSU.
Russi said it helps to keep the needs of the actors and writers taken care of so that they can be better focused and more creative.
Every hour on the hour, there will be some sort of activity, like a music video, ice cream or pizza, to help keep participants awake and alert.
“Some sort of diversion just to keep the creative juices flowing,” Russi said.
Members of the community are invited to join VCSU students, faculty and staff as actors, writers and audience members.