It is not every day that Bowdoin actors and dancers perform shows in unconventional venues on campus like the Quad, library, and academic buildings. But for this week, it is every day.
By Sunday, the Bowdoin department of theater and dance will have performed more than seven different shows in one week. Each play is unique, and each is being performed at a separate location on campus on a different day of the week. The seven pieces will also be performed with a different cast as a collection over the weekend. These plays are part of a larger series of 365 plays.
The entire project, "365 Days/365 Plays," was written. In 2002 Suzan-Lori Parks, who gave a lecture at Bowdoin on October 2, wrote one play per day, every day. Bowdoin applied for and was granted permission to perform the 49th week of the series. Fifty-one other colleges and universities around the country will produce the remainder of the shows this year, making "365 Days/365 Plays" the largest theatrical collaboration in the United States to date.
"[It] is an ensemble piece, so I feel that as a cast we have become very tightly knit," said Emily Goodridge '08 in an e-mail to the Orient.
Each of the seven pieces that comprise the 49th week was rehearsed by a different theater or dance class. Senior Lecturer in Dance Performance Paul Sarvis co-directed a play that will be performed on the Quad on Saturday from 11:45 p.m. until midnight.
"The idea was to make it a sort of treasure hunt or guerilla theater kind of thing," Sarvis said.
"It is an aesthetically pleasing show, involving extensive use of light, sound, and video," Goodridge said.
According to Sarvis, the plays are more about stage direction and gesture than they are about dialogue. In fact, the Department of Theater and Dance hired a sound and video designer to enhance certain aspects of the show. Sarvis said that the pieces have "an underscore of sound that has poetic resonance with what's happening on stage."
Sarvis likened the plays to "metaphysical or existential meditations," adding that some of the pieces have no language whatsoever.
One of this week's plays is a simple scene of a man who tries to hang himself but is unexpectedly supported by another person from beneath. As his arms tire, the person beneath tries to convince the hanging man not to commit suicide. Another performance begins with a group of people walking through an underground tunnel toward a light. When the light mysteriously goes out, the travelers discuss whether or not they should keep going.
"There is a strand that runs through them that is about hope within hopelessness," Sarvis said.
Sarvis explained that the pieces are very minimal and not character or plot driven.
"It forces [the performers] to really understand what they are doing as if they were directors," he said.
The seven plays which comprise the 49th week of "365 Days/365 Plays," will be performed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Pickard Theater. The Friday and Saturday performances will be at 8 p.m., and the Sunday performance will be at 2 p.m.