A Year’s Worth of Plays in Two Days

Marie Sykes masykes@ursinus.edu

There are approximately 1.03 x 10^51 ways to create a one act of twenty plays from 365 Plays/365 Days, but Joey Nolan ‘24 has chosen one of those combinations from Suzan-Lori Parks’ 2002 anthology for Breakaway Student Productions to perform December 10th and 11th. The anthology itself is comprised of 365 plays Parks wrote every day for the course of a year. Picking twenty plays from the selection, Nolan has composed a one of a kind performance you won’t see anywhere else other than the stage in Bomberger Chapel.

How does one craft a one-act when the limits are endless (or very very big)? Nolan said he spent the summer reading the full anthology over and over again and picked twenty that stood out and “fit a certain existential vibe.” He continued, saying they “work well together to tell a story about interconnectedness.” “Underneath all of it is a message of hope while being hilarious,” he added, saying “humor is a really powerful tool. It can give you a new perspective on things… even on a serious thing… that really enhances the importance of it.” The plays are almost “a creative playground. You can do a hundred different things with them and it will still work.”

Nolan chose the anthology after spending time studying the work last spring in Professor Scudera’s class where groups of students performed selections from the reading themselves. He said he “really con- nected with the material because it was all about interconnectedness and connection through conflict.”

Within the play itself, there are twelve actors each with two to five roles throughout the entire show, and two actors never leave the stage at all, Annie Zulick ‘25 and Abbie Painter ‘23. Zulick, who plays roles titled “Krishna” and “Someone Else,” called the play “a wonder” considering “the dedication one must have to commit to writing a play every day for a whole year.” She continued, saying “here we are, taking this beautiful creation and applying it to our experiences and creating something new.” She said it was “very special” since it is “the ability to pick and choose certain pieces and make our own storyline out of it all makes it an entirely new and unique experience.” When asked about how she prepared for the show, she said “I really want to fully immerse my character in this play. It isn’t a character I’m typically used to. There’s not as much exaggeration, but rather I can bring my own truth to a lot of what I’ll be performing. I want to live and breathe this character.”

When asked why Nolan wanted to direct, he said he’s “always had a passion for theater [and] wanted to see more of what it was like from the production side… to get out of [his] comfort zone and take the reins.” He also discussed attending the Atlantic Acting School over the summer which he said “totally changed my perspective on everything. After living in New York and fully immersing myself in theater for two months, I really know now that’s what I want to do professionally.” He said it was a class of sixty and the others were the “greatest actors I have ever met in my life” and called the teachers “inspirational and incredible.” Getting to attend the program allowed him to really “see the impact that theater has on people.”

Nolan ended the interview making sure to remind everyone to “come see the show!” The show performs December 10 and 11 and follow up on Breakaway’s Instagram, @uc_bsp, to learn more. Good luck to the cast and crew!