Play-in-a-day challenges Cruiser student actors and stage crew

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By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Members of Groveport Madison High School’s Cruiser Theatre Company will get

Photo courtesy of Brenda Watts
Kayla Worthington, now a senior, (left) and Derek Smith, now a senior, are shown here in a photo from 2019 rehearsing a scene for last year’s production of the Cruiser Theatre Company’s play-in-a-day.

a chance to stretch their performance skills during an intensive 24-hour period.

The student thespians and stage crew will rehearse and perform, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned By Being In A Bad Play,” by Werner Treischmann, as this year’s “play-in-a-day” experience. The show is about putting on a play, but nothing goes quite according to plan. The play will be performed on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Groveport Madison High School auditorium 4475 S. Hamilton Road, Groveport. Admission is $5.

The 24-hour play-in-a-day concept consists of students staying at the school auditorium for 24 hours to rehearse and prepare costumes and stage sets. This compact preparation period is in contrast to the normal weeks of work that precede most of their other performances.

“The 24-hour rehearsal period really helps the students get to know one another and learn to work together quickly, thereby enhancing their collaboration skills,” said Cruiser Theatre Company director and teacher Erin McLaughlin. “Theatre is inherently collaborative, and the time frame raises the stakes on establishing and maintaining positive collaboration and interactions for the duration of the show. The brevity of play-in-a-day opens doors for students who can’t commit to months of rehearsals because of other extracurriculars, transportation arrangements, health issues, and so on, to participate in a theatrical production.”

McLaughlin said she selected this play because it is a one-act comedy. “These are easiest because they are fairly short, meaning fewer lines and stage directions for the cast to memorize, and generally speaking it’s easier to cover for mistakes in a comedy than in a drama, because we can play off mistakes as things we meant to do,” said McLaughlin. “This particular play calls for no set and has limited specifics regarding props and costumes, making it a little easier to put together in such a short time.”

She said the challenge for the actors in this show is that some characters have longer monologues that need to be memorized, which is difficult in the 24-hour production time frame of this show.

“However, the 24-hour production process, with very little sleep and a lot of rehearsals crammed into that time, is probably the most challenging aspect of this play for everyone,” said McLaughlin. “The script calls for an unspecified number of characters playing ‘actors,’ and things could get fairly chaotic if the cast ends up being very large.”

She said the biggest challenge for the stage crew will be props and costumes.

“There’s not really a set, but the script calls for burlap sacks and bowler hats as costumes, which I will likely have to procure in advance,” said McLaughlin. “The script has some unusual prop specifications, including a light saber, which means we will have to get creative on exactly how we can meet the script’s requirements, given our time frame and limited resources.”

McLaughlin said that when she first came to Groveport Madison High School and heard about the play-in-a-day, her first reaction was, “I’m sorry, we do what? Are you out of your mind? It seems like a totally crazy idea on the surface, especially since it happens during musical production season, one of our busiest times of year.”

She said last year’s play-in-a-day was more fun than she expected.

“It provides an opportunity for a student to serve as director and gain valuable experience in that aspect of theatre, which in turn allows me to serve as technical director, a position I love,” said McLaughlin. “This process really gets the students involved to bond with one another. We know we have a tough task to accomplish, and that teamwork is the key to getting it done. The students who participate typically come out of play-in-a-day closer to one another, more confident from accomplishing something that seems so crazy to do, and with a deeper, more thorough understanding of how much work really goes into making a play happen.”

McLaughlin said senior Derek Smith is returning as director after his successful production of “The Monologue Show (from Hell)” in January.

“I cannot say enough good things about Derek’s skill as a director, and a playwright, and an actor, and a singer, and a person,” said McLaughlin. “Audiences of this year’s play-in-a-day are in for a real treat.”

McLaughlin thanked Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros, who will serve as administrator on duty for play-in-a-day again this year.

“He gave us a beautiful shout out on the announcements after play-in-a-day last year and I appreciate his support in spite of this being a busy time of year in the world of athletics as well as in the world of theatre,” said McLaughlin.

The Cruiser Theatre Company’s spring show will be, “The Addams Family” – April 2, 3, 4, 5. All shows at Groveport Madison High School, 4475 S. Hamilton Road. Visit www.cruisertheatre.weebly.com for information.

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