New meaning can be given to the phrase 24/7/365 for a Kentucky-born playwright. In November 2002, Pulitzer Prize-winner and playwright Suzan-Lori Parks made a commitment to write one play a day for an entire year and called it “365 Days/365 Plays,” said Harry Parker, chair of the TCU theater department.
The TCU Department of Theatre, starting Sept. 10, is joining hundreds of acting companies involved in what theater companies call the largest project in the history of American theater.
Now, four years after Parks started her project, more than 700 theater companies and 70 universities in the U.S. and around the world are performing at least one of the 52 weeks of plays in the 365 International Festival, according to the “365 Days/365 Plays” Web site. Performances started Nov. 12, 2006, and will end Nov. 13, 2007. TCU actors will perform the plays of week 44.
Texas theater groups from Austin to Galveston are involved, holding performances in untraditional locations such as cafes and street corners, according to “American Theatre Magazine.” Several Fort Worth companies, including the Circle Theatre and the Jubilee Theatre, have already given their performances, Parker said.
Arian Augustus, senior English and psychology major, said she had seen performances of “365 Days/365 Plays” in Atlanta and is excited to be a part of it at TCU.
“It’s just such a cool project,” Augustus said. “You’re part of like a worldwide movement that’s trying to bring theater back to the people by being free, by being simple and by being whatever you want it to be.”
Parks specifically wanted low-budget performances without elaborate lighting and costumes, with no cost to the public, Augustus said.
Stage manager Kerby Anderson, senior social work major and theater minor, said with minimal production and no budget, “we have to be creative to get the story across” and “learn how to pull from the resources that we already have.”
In spring 2006, Parker said he heard about the project from an e-mail and worked with other TCU faculty to get involved. Parker said the plays are completely student-run. Students are the directors, actors and crew for the entire week of shows, he said. The faculty chose four student-directors and their plays, and those directors selected actors Aug. 27, Parker said.
Daniel Fredrick, a junior theatre major, said although his emphasis is in acting, he wanted to try directing on a college level.
“It’s an opportunity that’s not going to come around again, so I wanted to be a part of it as much as I could,” Fredrick said. “It’s unlike anything that has been put on stage at TCU … something a little wild and out there.”
TCU performs two different plays and the three constants every day, Parker said, and every play will be shown twice because they are all very short.
The constants represent events that the average person experiences, like having a busy schedule or having nothing to do, Augustus said.
“I’m excited because it’s different, it’s special and (Parks’) writing is special,” Parker said. “We’re honoring her in this one-of-a-kind project.