Mercutio Troupe hosts 48-hour theater festival

by Natalie Busch / Beacon Staff • October 14, 2015

Emily Lautch and Hannah McEachern in “Not Another Love Triangle.”
Emily Lautch and Hannah McEachern in “Not Another Love Triangle.”

A goat yearns for something more than just the grass in his own pen. Sisters struggle to cope with a loss, and settlers strap in for a one way trip to Mars. Mathematicians attempt to solve the mysteries of the universe, a writer’s characters lament his shoddy writing, and Greek mythology is reimagined as Medusa and her girlfriend Athena end up in the Underworld after a deadly car crash.

These were the six diverse stories presented in the final showcase of Create48, Emerson’s inaugural 48 hour theater festival. Hosted by Mercutio Troupe, the event showed in the Little Building’s Cabaret this past Sunday night to an audience of around 120.

Exactly two days prior, 39 students were split into six groups and given two requirements: Each play must begin with the line, “You think you’re a genius?” and end with, “All right, take it easy, take it easy.” Each group, comprised of one or two writers, three or four actors, one stage manager, and one director, then collaborated to prepare a 10 to 15 minute performance in two days.

Create48 is the creation of Victoria Brancazio, a sophomore performing arts major and the new play coordinator for Mercutio, who first pitched the idea at the end of last semester. Brancazio said she had done a similar event while in high school and decided to bring that successful format to Emerson. 

Students applied to participate through a Google form, and no one was turned down, as Brancazio and the other members of the production board felt that the exclusivity of auditions would send the wrong message about Create48.

“It is purely in the spirit of collaboration, meeting new people, trying new things, and bringing diverse theater lovers together,” Brancazio said.

Unlike the 48 Hour Film Festival, Create48 is not a competition but a showcase, reflecting Mercutio’s emphasis on process over product.

“I would consider a group that is working together really well, having fun, bouncing ideas off of each other but not necessarily [having] the best—whatever that means—show at the end, [as having done] a better job than a group that fought all the time but had a really amazing show,” Brancazio said.

Juliet Perrell McCarthy, a junior performing arts major and the marketing manager for Mercutio and the festival, said the collaborative nature of the event provides important networking opportunities.

“It’s a great way to get to know people who you might not interact with outside of class and to make connections and get to know people outside of your bubble,” McCarthy said.

Sophomore performing arts major Jane Reagan, who acted in “Posterity (You Can’t Swipe Right on Mars)” on Sunday, said she looks forward to taking part in the showcase in future years, possibly even as a writer or director. She said the festival is well worth the effort. 

“It’s 48 hours of your life that you get to spend hanging out with like-minded people who are all very passionate about something, and it’s a really rewarding experience,” Reagan said. “It’s worth all the time and energy and memorization.”

Aside from being a rewarding experience, Brancazio said that the event is akin to professional theater. 

“It is a microcosm of what the actual theater world is like, which is collaborative, and high intensity, and high pressure, and a lot of fun,” Brancazio said.

When forming the groups, Brancazio and the other producers made sure to split up friends and to have both upperclassmen and underclassmen in each group. Jonah Godfrey, who directed “How Many People Are Dead (So Many),” said that the weekend allowed him to meet new people.

“I met some really great freshmen who I just haven’t had the chance to meet yet. And there are some really talented, awesome, wonderful people that I got to work with,” the sophomore performing arts major said. “I feel like everyone met someone new.”

Reflecting on the final performances, Godfrey said that the whole event was a success.

“It was just amazing to see how well it came together,” Godfrey said. “I think everyone was just happy.”

Brancazio said she hopes to build upon the success of this year’s festival to make it an annual event.

“[Create48] is a celebration of the collaborative nature of theater and the Emerson theater students,” Brancazio said. “And also it’s not just exclusive to theater students. It’s open to everyone.”