New name, same legacy: The 1440 Theatre Project

The Guild of St. Genesius, Loras’ own honorary theatre group, hosted the annual 1440 Theatre Project on Saturday, Oct. 21, in St. Joseph’s auditorium. Previously known as the 24 Hour Theatre Project, the newly named 1440 Theatre Project locks students in Hoffman Hall for 24 hours, or 1440 minutes, in order to write, direct, and perform an original one act play.

Students arrived in Hoffmann at 7 p.m. on Friday with no hopes of escaping until Saturday night, lest facing disqualification. After going over the rules of the event, the four predetermined teams — including one alumni team — played a quick game of charades to decide the order in which teams would pick different qualifying characteristics for their plays. In order, each team got to choose a stack of newspapers and had 30 minutes to pick an article which would be the inspiration for their show. In addition, the article also had to give them either a line or character to incorporate in their plays. Then, the groups selected a location from a list for their own show and assigned another group a prop that must appear within the performance.

Advised by Doug Donald, the groups were then told they had 24 hours to create, direct, and rehearse their play. The teams worked through the night, getting less than four hours of sleep on average. Saturday morning, the teams were given a curve ball. Students were told that they must include a flashback of some sort into their show. This forced the teams to think of creative solutions for rewriting their show with only a few hours until showtime.

At 7:30 p.m., the show began. The show was emceed by the Project Referee, junior Sarah Mueller. Mueller explained the rules and also introduced the judges for the night including, Gary Arms from Clarke University; Michelle Blanchard, a costume designer for The Grand Opera House in Dubuque; and Art Sunleaf, Loras’ Dean of Students. Mueller also described how the judging and voting process would work. After the four performances, audiences would have the chance to vote by donating to their favorite team’s bucket and liking the team’s photo on Facebook. All of the monetary and food donations went to Dubuque food pantry.

The performances began with team The Purple Peeps, members including first-years Amelia Foley, Celia Balderston, and sophomores Brigid Flaherty, Krystyna Kaminski, and Matthew Golubski. Their show, “Pineapple Puppy People”, was about a man and woman who met online and decided to get married after three days based upon their love of puppies and pineapples. The judges awarded the show with best use of location, which was a wedding.

Next, was team Linguini Bean including seniors Adrienne Pearson, Brody Hooker, Caitlin Hansen, and Katie Tooze. Revolving around drugged food and medieval delusions, “Operation Off the Menu”, was a crowd favorite. With donations resulting in $34, team Linguini Bean swept the floor with the others, winning the Audience Choice Award. The team was also presented with the Best Use of Prop and the Best Use of Flashback awards from the judges.

The third team was the alumni team including Austin McElroy, Benjy Miller, Kyle Leeson, and Stephanie Benic. Their show, “The List”, was about a man who wanted to get revenge on his rich enemies. While the group did not win any awards, the alumni were glad to be back.

“It feels great to be back at the place where I started on the stage,” Miller stated. “to get the opportunity to be creative with a bunch of my friends, and to be with the students again.”

The final team, The Douglettes, included sophomores Amber Krieg, Caroline Breitbach, Morgan Muenster, and junior Angela Richardson. Winning the Judge’s Choice Award, their show, “You, Me, and the Mothman”, was the first ever period piece in The 1440 Theatre Project’s history. The show, which included a monochromatic black and white theme, revolved around a reporter from the 1960s who desperately wanted to witness the “Mothman.”

While it’s a tiring event, Vice President of the Guild of St. Genesius, junior Angela Richardson, said there’s nothing else like it.

“1440 is one of the greatest opportunities that Loras has to offer in the fine arts,” Richardson stated, “it allows students to have the chance to write, direct, act, and create costumes set designs. It gives students a chance to be involved with some of the aspects of theatre that they normally wouldn’t get to experience.”

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