Most college students understand the feelings associated with having to produce decent work under duress and intense time constraints, but believe it or not, a large group of student directors, writers and actors intentionally create this kind of stress for themselves every semester — and they do it for fun.
“Shotgun!” is a biannual theater event organized and run by SF State’s Player’s Club that challenges students to write, direct, rehearse and perform 10-minute plays for an audience in a span of just more than 48 hours. Random prompts are submitted and assigned to writers and directors, who then have one night to draft a 10-minute vignette.
The following day, anywhere from one to six actors are assigned to a director, where they then have some time to rehearse and go over their lines. On the final day, each group has time to rehearse their bit and work out all the kinks until showtime at 7 p.m.
With less than three days to create an entertaining piece of theater, it can be incredibly stressful, but participants say that is part of the fun.
“It’s almost like procrastinating on a paper and then BS-ing it the night before it’s due,” Tommy Scott, the 24-year-old theatre major said. “It’s stressful, but everyone enjoys themselves.”
Sign-ups for “Shotgun!” were on Oct. 11, and as one of the more popular regular events of the Theatre Department, people were lining up more than an hour before sign-ups began to get a chance to participate in this year’s round as either a writer, director or actor.
This semester, Scott will be writing a piece, while his friend and Player’s Club officer, Casey Robbins, will be directing.
Considering Scott has no idea what he will write about until day one, Nov. 1, when he is given his prompt, preparing for the event mainly involves keeping an open mind and ingesting a particular stimulant.
“Lots of coffee, or Red Bull,” Scott said. “Whatever caffeine of your choice helps.”
Nearly all preparation is next to worthless, claims fellow theatre major Drew Wolff , who participated in the impromptu event last semester.
“Any sort of preparation goes right out the window when it’s time to do it,” the 21-year-old actor said.
When called to meet up with his director, Wolff had less than a day to get a feel for his character, memorize his lines and be able to play his role competently.
“No matter how many shows you do, it doesn’t matter,” Wolff said. “This one is so quick, and so in your face. It’s what theatre is all about.”
The Player’s Club is a student-run organization representing SF State theatre students that promotes and supports the department’s events. The Player’s Club also organizes its own shows once a semester, “Shotgun!” being one of them.
According to Player’s Club Officer Drew Reitz, part of the appeal of this event is the communal aspect, given that the show is completely organized, managed and run by students who all share a passion for theater.
“It shows the great sense of community we have,” the 20-year-old theatre major said. “It’s great to see the kind of stuff that people come up with on the spot, and everyone is so nice and supportive.”
Scott, who is taking part in his fourth “Shotgun!” also appreciates the unique atmosphere that surrounds the event.
“It’s a big celebration,” Scott said. “Even the audience is engaged and involved. Everyone wants to see everyone succeed and have fun.”
Reitz was originally inspired to get involved as a Player’s Club officer because of “Shotgun!”
“It was one of my favorite events to do as a freshman,” Reitz said. “I made friends that I’m still friends with now, and I want to get freshman involved, so no one is out of the loop.”
Although the show can be seen as a kind of insider-event, sign-ups for positions are completely open to all SF State students on a first come first serve basis.
The event begins Nov. 1, and showtime is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 in the Studio Theatre. The show is free for anyone to attend.