The Owl and Nightingale Players, on the other hand…
By Meghan O’Donnell, staff writer
Resuming an old and well-loved tradition, The Owl and Nightingale Players put on their annual festival of short plays in Stevens Theater on Saturday, September 19, 2015. The festival is best known as the Black Box Blitz, and it combines the talents of Gettysburg college actors, playwrights and directors into a dramatic and comedic showcase. Six short plays were performed this year, all written, as is tradition, in just three days by Gettysburg students.
A week before the Black Box Blitz performances, writers are given a prompt that they are challenged to develop quickly into plays. This year’s writers had only three days to respond to a prompt of four leading and open-ended words: “On the other hand…” With no other direction given, writers have free reign to create works ranging from pure slapstick comedy to intricate, emotional drama. Actors and directors are chosen for each of these plays by selecting names from a hat. Casts are randomly matched to plays and directors randomly handed material that they must quickly understand, organize and interpret for the stage.
Then, with everything in place, the Players have three days left to memorize their lines and stage the plays. These three days were surely full of sleeplessness as they committed to the plays. In some cases, the cast was able to rehearse just one time before the show itself. And yet, with time constraints shadowing their every move, the Owl and Nightingale Players succeeded once again in creating a stunning theatrical showcase.
Standouts from the Blitz included the surprisingly witty “A Very Important Date” by Danielle Ofeldt and the hilarious “Melt” by Jacob Ryave. In “A Very Important Date” a young couple, played with thoughtfulness and expertise by Emily Pierce and Steven Wojcik, experiences equal parts laughter and anxiety as they enter a hospital for the birth of their first child. “Melt,” on a sillier note, turns a cheese taste test into an uproarious analysis of identity that is fully committed to by actors Danielle Ofeldt and Mairead Kress.
The Black Box Blitz encouraged audience members to think, made them laugh and oftentimes left them astounded by the talent displayed on the stage. The event, just as in previous years, succeeded in serving as a platform on which Gettysburg’s students can shine and share their voices with their peers.