In 2010, Marie and Hannah Schenk realized it was hard to get people to perform in their theater group, the Lobster Players. So Marie had an idea: instead of asking for a three-week commitment for preparation, like the normal play, what if it was just 24 hours?
“Twenty-four hours is all a busy teenager can commit to,” Marie Schenk said.
So the two started the Lobster Player’s first 24-hour theater festival. Sunday night was the third installment of the annual event, with the participation – and the performances – the best yet.
“I am so happy how it came out, this was the best year yet,” Hannah Schenk said. “Everybody was just really amazing.”
Sunday night in Connecticut College, young, local actors from around the area, many from Waterford and the WATERFORDrama program, put on six one-scene shows. Each show was written the night before, and then rehearsed all day Sunday and then performed Sunday night at 8.
This year, the event , a Waterford graduate who unexpectedly died in April. Danskin’s sister started the Lobster Players, and Stirling was active in the 24-hour festival the previous two years.
“We couldn’t do this without making it about him,” Hannah Schenk said.
How It Works
On Saturday at 8 p.m., six writers were given one line they had to use in their script – “some things only happen every four years” – and five props, and were given 12 hours to write a one-scene play. By 8 a.m. the next morning, the writers stopped and submitted the plays to their director and actors.
Each of the six groups had one director and between two and four actors. The groups rehearsed the play all day Sunday, and then Sunday night at 8 they all put on a performance in Evans Hall in Connecticut College.
The event this year was called “Bright” to honor Danskin, who “was the definition of bright,” Hannah Schenk said. He was smart and creative and lit up a room, and by just being around made everything better, she said.
“He just brought so much to our group, we were lucky to have him around and we really, really miss him,” Schenk said.
The first play was “Blockhead,” which was written by Alfonso Giansanti, directed by Kevin Schlink and starred Noah Todd and CJ Thibeau. The comedy was about Todd’s quest to win the 2012 Olympic gold medal in Jenga, and left the audience howling in their seats.
Next came “This American Life,” which was written by Victor Chiburis, directed by Joshua Marcks and featured Warren Mason, Gabe Umland and Kelsey Johnson. The drama was about two orphans contrasted against a rich investor, who eventually is responsible for killing one of them.
The third was “A Play About A Play,” a piece authored by Mike Hinton, directed by Maddy Sayet and starred Adam Pilarski, Erica Pierce, Kayla Richardson and Jayson Menders. The comedy was literally a play about a play, with the last line of the play being, “This is the last line of the play.”
After an intermission came “Untitled,” a play written by Aine McCarthy, directed by Joshua Kelly and starred Andrew Guay, Tess Wilensky, Chelsea Ivins and Melissa Close. The play was about three women and one very effeminate man going camping to reconnect with their spirit.
“Shelter/Dear Earth,” a scene authored by Noah Bogdonoff, directed by Danielle McGuire and featured Michael Stankov, Carin Estey and Leah Doroski, followed that. The play was about possibly the three last people on earth who had ate other humans to survive.
Finally, there was “The Points Between the Lines,” which was written by Sara Kelly, directed by Ben Leatham and starred Lily Fryburg and Elena Umland. Fryburg and Umland played Helena and Hermia of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with the piece highlighting their frayed relationship.
At the end of the night, all the actors, directors and writers got on stage and took a bow, and then the lights went off. And then the only thing that glowed was two glow sticks in a clear plastic jar, to honor Danskin.