Theatre department to participate in 365-play festival

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    The theatre department has committed to produce part of a national festival consisting of 365 days worth of plays. It sounds like a daunting task, but the 365 Days/365 Plays play-cycle will last one week at TCU.

    In 2002, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks decided to write a play every day of the year.

    According to the 365 Days/365 Plays Web site, Parks’ play cycle of short works began being performed in cities and at universities all across the country in November 2006.

    This national festival, ending November 2007, has created the largest theatre collaboration in U.S. history, according to the Web site.

    “There are literally hundreds of theaters across the country participating,” said Harry Parker, chairman of the theatre department. “We all have a kinship.”

    The theatre faculty read about the idea and presented it at a faculty meeting, Parker said.

    The department then submitted a proposal to produce one week of Parks’ plays, having only read three out of the seven of them. The theatre faculty choice was not based on the plays but by what week was best for the department to produce them, Parker said.

    “You went on faith,” Parker said.

    Students will perform five short plays for seven days in September 2007, in addition to the theatre department’s usual six shows a year. The 365 Days/365 Plays works were written to be very short, and all five will only take about 30 minutes to perform, Parker said.

    The plays are designed to be exciting, fresh and accessible, said Alan Shorter, an assistant professor on the performance faculty.

    “I think sometimes students and people outside of theatre think that theater is old, dull, dry and not necessarily pertinent to their lives,” Shorter said. “This breaks those myths. It breaks the idea of what theatre can be.”

    Junior and senior theatre students who have taken the directing class will be given the opportunity to apply to direct the plays, Parker said.

    Sophomore theatre major Tricia Williamson said she thinks it is educational to be a part of something a lot larger than just TCU.

    “Student directing is a learning process for everyone involved,” Williamson said.

    The student directors will not have to deal with any preconceptions on how the plays are to be produced, Shorter said.

    “You really have a blank canvas to work with and can learn a great deal,” Shorter said. “It’s an excellent education opportunity.”

    The project will be “great fun” because the students won’t just be replicating old plays, Shorter said. They will be getting to experiment with the plays and with freer ways that they can be produced, Shorter said.

    “They’re called plays, but sometimes we forget to play,” Shorter said.