Play in a Day Keeps Audience Laughing

The Colonel, played by Amy Berman, holds a knife to the throat of Anne, played by Seren Sehota, while Emanuel, played by Justin Jairam, looks on during Play in a Day. (Hunter Patterson|Foghorn)

USF’s College Players hosted the original play “The Great Debacle: Angels See Thee to Thy Resting Place,” in this semester’s Play in a Day last weekend. The play was confusing but amusing to the two dozen people who turned up to witness the CP tradition.

As the name implies, Play in a Day is an event where a play is created in one day by students. Participants were divided into two teams, one to write a script and the other to act it out. The writing team started in on the work at 8 p.m. on Friday and was required to hand over a script to the acting team at 8 a.m. the next day, at which point the actors had 12 hours to learn the script and rehearse the performance in time for an 8 p.m. Saturday showing. This year’s script was 12 pages long and the performance lasted about 25 minutes.

This year’s play was hard to follow, but was filled with some good one-liners that kept the audience laughing. The plot followed loosely that of the “Saw” movies, where victims are placed in a scenario where they must do gruesome things to escape a maze that a crazed villain has constructed for them. In “The Great Debacle,” seven random people are drawn together and the last one surviving “wins” and is allowed to go free. At the end of the game the last remaining victim is Anne, played by Seren Sehota, who realizes she is actually in Guantanamo Bay (see, I said it was confusing).

The play featured four writers and five actors and was directed by junior Deidre Doyle. All of the participants are USF students and many of them are familiar faces in USF’s theater community.

Senior Justin Jairam, who played Emanuel, said, “Play In A Day is a really intense 12-hour process that is comedic and very rewarding. Since it is written and directed by students it captures the student perspective.” Jairam explained that many of the writers’ own backgrounds and experiences get worked into the script. For example, there were lots of references to Mormon culture because one of the writers was Mormon, he said.
Junior Isaac Samuelson was on the writing team and pulled an all-nighter working on the script. “The night was a blur of caffeine and pizza,” he said.  “It’s a lot of fun; I didn’t have any trouble staying up.”

Junior Brita Thompson said she thought the play was kind of confusing but found the whole experience amusing. “I never thought I would see so many puns about sock puppets” she said. “And I didn’t know I was in for a play about hobo sexuality,” she said in reference to a theme and song about homosexual transients in the performance.

Play In A Day happens almost every semester and is hosted by College Players. It is open to all students and no experience is required.

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