UT students produce, perform original plays in one week

Stephen Acevedo

Most theatre productions take months of writing, directing and casting. But this Thursday, some UT students will take on the challenge of creating a play in seven days.

On Sept. 8, Creative Arts + Theatre will hold its third annual “Once Upon a Week” production in the Student Activity Center’s Black Box Theatre consisting of original plays written, directed and performed entirely by UT students in no more than a week.

Participants met on Sept. 1, when the writers were given a series of challenges to meet in their scripts such as funny phrases or pop-culture references. From there, writers had three days to crank out a script before the directors met with actors who were assigned to various roles. The actors will be given no more than one hour to rehearse their roles before the performance Thursday.

“We take the entire theatre process, which takes about two months, and condense it to a single week,” said Minerva Hernandez, a sociology and Mexican-American studies senior and Creative Arts + Theatre chair. “It’s a really high-stakes, low-time commitment event.”

The actors, who have the least amount of prep time, are not completely left to their own devices, though. Hernandez said the producers do not expect them to memorize an entire play in 24 hours, so they are allowed to have scripts in hand when it comes time to perform the finished product. As for props and a set, performers just have to use their imaginations.

“We want to keep everything as minimalistic as possible,” Hernandez said.

The goal of Creative Arts + Theatre is to open up the world of live theatre to UT students of all backgrounds and majors.

“When I was in high school, I was huge into theatre, but I didn’t necessarily want to study it in college,” Hernandez said. “That doesn’t mean my passion for theatre disappeared, though.”

“Once Upon a Week,” in particular, serves as the perfect opportunity for students who have never experienced live theatre before to get their feet wet and try it out. While other Creative Arts + Theatre productions still call for auditions, this one accepts everyone who applies.

“‘Once Upon a Week’ is a great ‘try’ event,” said Katie Young, radio-television-film sophomore and one of the performance’s directors. “I think a lot of people feel like they missed the opportunity to try theatre by not doing so in high school, and we want to give them that chance.”

The event’s short time period is also ideal for people who just want to see if theatre is something they are interested in getting involved in.

“The participants don’t have to commit a huge chunk of their time to something they’re not even sure is for them,” Young said. “People can try it out for a week, and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to come back. If they do like it, we’re open to everyone.”

Most importantly, “Once Upon a Week” aims to be a fun challenge for creative people who work well under pressure.

“It’s been so much fun and it’s going to be beautiful,” aerospace engineering senior Cody Knoblock said. “We always say, ‘We all like to procrastinate on our homework, so why not make it fun and procrastinate on our theatre shows too?’”