Wig & Candle Opens with Plays in a Day

Photo courtesy of Julianne Brown

Wig & Candle, Connecticut College’s student-run theater community, began its Fall 2017 season on Saturday, Sep. 9, with the traditional opening of Plays in a Day, an event that presents plays written, rehearsed and produced within 24 hours. This year’s event offered a successful mix of funny and serious works.

Highlights of the evening included “Obsessive Compulsive,” written by Cat McDonnell ’21, directed by Julia Hutton ’19, and performed by Alessia Guise ’20, Aidan Gorrell ’18, and MaryClare McDonough ’18. The play provided an engaging interpretation of the effect of obsessive-compulsive disorder on the life of a Connecticut College student portrayed by McDonough with Guise acting as her disruptive inner voice of OCD. A powerful moment occurred at the end with McDonough walking off stage while Guise stared after her repetitively asking “What time is it?” I am interested in seeing whether McDonnell will further develop her ideas about portraying OCD or other psychiatric vulnerabilities on the stage.

Photo courtesy of Julianne Brown

Gorrell has also achieved past successes as a writer for Plays in a Day by taking the prompts given to him by the event’s organizers and creating the most outrageous scenario based on them. His contribution this year, “Beach Ball” was no different. Directed by Nikki Alexander ’21 and performed by Jonathan Brown ’19 and Peter Rhodin ’19, “Beach Ball” opened with a surprisingly large beach ball placed in the center of the stage. As the play progressed, it became apparent that the humans of the show, Brown and Rhodin, were at war with the beach balls. This was on account of the harm they caused through sun burn and all the other nasty things that can happen to people at the beach. Gorrell’s scenario was magnificently outrageous, and upon his graduation his outlandish creativity and sense of humor will certainly be missed at the College.

Finally “Hide and Jo Seek” was in this reviewer’s opinion the best of the plays presented that evening. Written by Anna Langman ’19, it featured the talents of two recent alumni, director Ashley Giordano ’17 and performer Ruy Zambrano ’17. Also performing was Audrey Black ’21. Another comedy, a style that I think works well for Wig & Candle’s Plays in a Day, and that dominated this year’s edition, the play imagined the chance meeting of two characters named Jo and Joe in the middle of a forest. Hilarity ensued as names were confused and apparently mispronounced, and Joe alleged that he had been playing an exaggerated game of hide-and-go-seek for most of his life (although I questioned how long he really could have hidden from society when he had a fresh Box O’ Joe from Dunkin’ Donuts). There is something hilarious about seeing Zambrano looking so meek and lost in the blue jacket he wore in this piece, when compared with the much more assertive roles he typically performed in events such as last December’s dance concert. This play, extremely illogical and ridiculous, made for an excellent ending to a well crafted evening.

Wig & Candle’s season will continue with varied offerings, and Plays in a Day marks the beginning of what should be an interesting Fall. Next up this season is another comedy, Trudeau, a new play written by Trevor Bates ’18 about an American family that decides to walk to Canada. The work will be directed by Misao McGregor ’18 and will run Sep. 21-22. In an interview The College Voice conducted with the group’s artistic director, Jason Karos ’18, and assistant artistic director Hutton, Karos expressed excitement about the realization of the work. He noted that he and McGregor have familiarity with the play from when Bates began work on it in the playwriting class offered by the Theater department last Spring.

Photo courtesy of Julianne Brown

The season continues with An Osmosis, From Us to You, an experimental neo-futurist work being developed by Karos and Catherine Healey ’18, which will have a single performance on Oct. 20 in Shain Library Pit. The show will consist of a set of fifteen physical rituals that are contrasted with about one hundred audio clips. The audience will select what ritual and clip to contrast by calling out numbers for each; this is similar to a neo-futurist show entitled Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind that Karos directed for Wig & Candle in Spring 2016. In regards to his show Karos states that “Catherine [Healey] and I were interested in seeing what [kind of interesting theater you could make] if scenes and action didn’t necessarily coincide at the right times.” Next there will be a presentation of Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn’s adult musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with stage direction by Fiona Noyes ’20 and music direction by Moll Brown ’18 running Oct. 26-29.

After Thanksgiving, Wig & Candle will present Seven Jewish Children, a brief monologue-based play by Caryl Churchill, which will be directed by Gabrielle Schlein ’18. Karos describes the play as focusing on “the intersection between Jewish identity and the Jewish experience and Zionism.” A performance followed by a talkback will take place on a date to be decided in the first week of December. The season will close with One Day More: A Broadway Cabaret, with stage direction by George Grotheer ’19, music direction by Elijah Perry ’19 and choreography by Scott Leff ’20, in which according to Hutton “pretty much anything that’s iconic on Broadway is going to be in it.”