“In 24 hours, six one-act plays will be written, produced, directed, constructed, cast, propped, costumed and presented to an audience.”
WIRED!, the play competition first introduced three years ago by senior business major Gabe Alonso, took place on Saturday.
All College Theatre (ACT), TCNJ Musical Theatre (TMT), ‘ink’ and Sigma Pi Fraternity came together to put on this event.
To give you a glimpse of the creative process, we followed participants from the first twist to the final bow. ACT president James Van Strander served as production manager and writer.
The arbiters – the students who set and adjusted rules, served as hosts and judges and oversaw the competition – were sophomore English major Ashley Gallagher (ACT), ‘ink’ vice president Lindsay Coleman and TMT president Scott Sadowsky.
Joe Espineira, sophomore secondary education/music major, and Lindsay Gelay, ACT treasurer, were actors in two of the plays. Sophomore English major Michael Krahel and sophomore music major Brian Michalowski were among the directors.
Friday 8:00 p.m.
The arbiters meet Van Strander and 11 other writers in the New Library basement.
They announce this year’s theme: “Famous Verbal Blunders.” The writers are divided into six teams of two.
Van Strander thinks of John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Berlin speech, in which he misspeaks in German and accidentally calls himself a jelly doughnut instead of a citizen of Berlin.
Van Strander and his partner Colin Murray, senior music major, work until midnight writing their short play while listening to German techno music.
Arbiters introduce the first twist: Include an unusual disease in the play.
Saturday 12:00 a.m.
Van Strander and Murray think they’ve finished their first draft. The second twist is announced: Use two specific props. They begin revisions.
Third twist: Involve a story from The Signal. Van Strander and Murray select the “Cop Shop” story about a student using his roommate’s credit card to purchase porn on the Internet. That article will also make an appearance in every other play.
Fourth twist: Include the line “Go drink some orange juice and take a nap, you bitch.”
Fifth twist: Employ an arbiter as a prop.
Some writers are looking a bit relaxed. Arbiters add a sixth twist: Use three lines of iambic pentameter. Van Strander finds this rule to be slightly annoying.
Van Strander and Murray hand in their final draft. The arbiters make their final reviews of each script.
Krahel, Michalowski and the other directors arrive and are paired with their writers. They discuss details while the arbiters decide each cast from the list of actors.
Gelay and Espineira arrive with other actors, stage managers and production staff members, and the arbiters reveal the cast list. Actors head to their rehearsal areas with directors and stage managers where they will rehearse until the afternoon.
Stage managers search for the costumes and prop pieces needed.
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Michalowski, Krahel and other directors arrive in Brower Student Center Room 202 to begin loading everything in.
Coleman and Espineira arrive along with other actors and production staff members.
Stage managers run the first and only dress rehearsal.
A random audience member is selected as the fourth judge and the plays commence.
The show begins with the play “Potatoe,” which chronicles the story of two brothers who are holding an event to celebrate the grand opening of their bookstore. The event is supposed to feature special guest speaker Dan Brown.
Hijinks ensue, including the accidental booking of a smelly Dan Quayle impersonator played by Espineira. The play’s verbal blunder manifests itself when the sign-makers who are commissioned for a celebratory banner consistently misuse the letter ‘E.’ ‘Telephone’ gets spelled ‘telephon,’ ‘grand’ becomes ‘grande’ and ‘desk’ is spelled ‘deske.’
Alicia Silverstone’s commentary on her film “Clueless” provided the inspiration for “escargot, espionage, and the art of leprosy.” Two friends go out on dates with women who are not their wives.
One man, tricked into the date, is reluctant to cheat on his wife, repeatedly stating that he loves her. His friend began cheating on his wife when he found out how “clueless” she was. However, the wives find out about the dates, a waitress is shot and the good guy gets three cups of water to the face.
Coleman and Michalowski’s play, “Three Guys, Two Girls, a Dad, a Prostitute, but Unfortunately No Pizza Place” was inspired by an insensitive comment from Barbara Bush about Hurricane Katrina’s underprivileged Gulf Coast victims. The no-holds-barred play offered an uncensored glimpse into the lives of two roommates and their good female friend, played by Gelay.
The main character, played by sophomore Vinnie Scaffuto, uses his profanity-laced words of wisdom to convince his friends to dump their loser lovers.
Van Strander and Murray’s script, “Cloning Kennedy: A Scientific Look at Revisionist History,” is about a researcher and an intern who attempted to create a JFK clone to send back in time to change history in the hopes of bettering America’s reputation abroad.
However, they keep running into problems with their clones, ending up with a German Kennedy, a female and even a biological freak of nature.
“The Sam Oldman Ordeal” followed. Created with a sports announcer’s blunder in mind, the play is about a journalist reporting on the feud between a super-senior citizen and the oversexed, vain baseball legend he struck out.
The night ended with Krahel’s play, “Rarely is the Question Asked: Is Our Children Learning?” The title is a direct quote from President George W. Bush. School faculty members, including a very masculine female gym teacher with a taste for cheese blocks, attend a teachers’ conference. Keynote speaker Captain Roger Way, played by senior Ben Daniels and modeled after Bush, spoke about the importance of education and the technological brilliance of PowerPoint while wearing an orange diversity hat.
The winners are announced. Best Actor goes to Scaffuto, for his passionate and profane performance in “Three Guys.” The winner of Best Actress is junior Annie Raczko, who played an overbearing mother at fault for the many snafus in “Potatoe.” Van Strander and Murray win Best Writing, and Best Overall Play goes to the cast of “Potatoe,” directed by Arun Gurunathan.
Participating in WIRED! and winning the Best Writing award left Van Strander feeling extremely accomplished.
“I encourage anyone to give it a shot. It is a frantic, concentrated day of your time but you get the vibe of teamwork,” Van Strander said. “I encourage people who have never done a theater performance to try it.”