Short Attention Span Theatre

Illustration by Riley Andersen

For those who prefer to jump around and do mental gymnastics to keep their brains busy or who are simply those looking for a wonderful performance with lots of variety, Short Attention Span Theatre was a delight to all audiences. The performance included five different short plays from the intro, to the climax and to the conclusion, these plays kept their audience bewitched with joy.

The first play, Turtle’s Song by Jenna Prestwich and directed by Alanna Cottam opens on a couple looking through a shipwreck. It’s an odd couple to be sure, a lionfish named Tera and a turtle named Cory who are dating and clearly in love by the way they tease and talk so fondly. They’re hunting treasure as a gift for the turtle boy’s mother. The girl adorned in a red jacket with spines to demonstrate her lionfish traits and the boy bedecked in flannel. Cory anxiously puttering about saying that his father died from a grouper fish ganging up on him. Cory seems to always be incredibly fearful. Terateases him saying that they’ll be just fine. As they are teasing, two creatures come along chatting about finding some little creatures to eat. Tera and Cory hide in the wreckage of the ship, trembling with fear! The shark and the grouper fish flirt and giggle, calling each other babe. Their flirting antics are a clear distraction, making it seem as though they are not paying attention before sneaking up on Cory and Tera. Cory runs and in his haste slams his head into a pole sustaining a lethal blow to the skull. Tera attacks the shark and grouper fish in retaliation, and just as the two of the poisoned animals slink off in shame, Cory finds a piece of treasure as a gift for his mother. He hands it to Tera, telling her to give it to his mother, begging Tera to be sure she gets it. Tera touches his hand fearfully and Cory tells her he’s not afraid anymore. They begin to sing together, harmony taking center stage and soon their sweet duet turns to a solo as he perishes.

The next play, Open By Nathan Bowser and directed by Anne Post Fife, sets the stage in an apartment with someone asleep in an armchair and a girl and boy sitting on the couch watching a political debate. The girl then proceeds to explain Ad Hominem attacks to the boy — attacking the person rather than the actual issue at hand. The boy, now known as Clyde, notices their friend Jonah has fallen asleep and the girl, Addy, flirtatiously claims she purposefully fed him extra breakfast so he’d fall asleep, leaving them with alone time.  Addy and Clyde nearly kiss, interrupted by a text. He picks up his phone and winces saying he’d forgotten to tell her he planned to hang out with Sara and Andrew later that day. The couple starts fighting, Addy accusing him of cheating, saying that Sara must be an old flame of his and that he intended to dump her. Jonah wakes up and asks if this is about hanging out with Andrew, which sends Addy into an even bigger rage than before, seeing as how she wasn’t invited. She demands that they leave and kicks them out of her apartment. Jonah and Clyde bicker in the hall about whether Addy is a good choice or a bad choice. Jonah seems to be on the side of leaving Addy to cool off and just enjoying being with Andrew, saying that in the long run, Addy isn’t good enough for Clyde. Clyde insists on talking to Addy in spite of what Jonah has to say and Jonah leaves to go hang out with Andrew. This leaves Clyde to bravely address Addy on his own, knocking on the door. They start to fight all over again regarding the openness of their relationship. Addy still accusing him of cheating and Clyde trying to say that their openness, their dating other people is because he wants to be sure he truly loves her and isn’t just enamored by her. Addy admits to making out with another guy after he demands openness, quickly defending her actions by accusing Clyde of doing the same with Sara. She demands to know how many times they’ve made out. Clyde declares Ad Hominem, she’s attacking him rather than the real issue. Addy demands once again to know if they ever made out and Clyde declares he never once cheated on her, not even a little kiss and yet she cheated on him. He storms out, abandoning guilt-wracked Addy. Clyde knocks on the door just as it fades to black.

Jumping to the next original idea, the scene changes to a new story: Little Bird’s Adventure written by Alyssa Carey Gorski and directed by Alanna Cottam. This play opens on a dog, Little Bird, and a middle school girl who is her owner, Molly Anne, debating about going somewhere fun instead of going to the store. Little Bird, affectionately known as LB, argues that Molly was much more fun as a little human and that once she got tall, she became boring and declares that they should go play. LB finally allows Molly to drag her to the store, albeit dejectedly. While at the store LB waits outside for her owner and a busy mother exits the store talking on the phone with her little girl who demands to have a dog and the busy mother promises she’ll get her one. She turns with a stressed noise before seeing Little Bird and decides to take the dog home with her. LB refuses to go with her once she realizes she’s getting further and further from Molly Anne. The busy mother leaves her in disgust. LB is lost in the city and begins identifying different scents trying to find her way to Molly Anne. A man walks by trying to see if she’s the dog owned by Molly Anne, recognizing her from the neighborhood, and follows her, unable to look at her collar due to her skittishness. She finally comes to the man and shows him his nametag and upon seeing she is in fact, the dog he thought she was, he calls up Molly Anne, and the duo are joyfully reunited. The man talks to her about how stressed she is and he says that perhaps they should play more and the scene ends with Molly Anne and Little Bird declaring they shall set off on their own adventures together. 

The stage closes on Little Bird and opens to the next intriguing tale I Wanna Be Batman! by Will King and directed by Anne Post Fife. The light on the stage reveals a child dressed as Batman, and children playing dress-up with their toys. One of the siblings, Annie, demands to have their Batman mask back and Lily, the younger one, throws a fit demanding that she will only give the mask back if they can eat ice cream. When Annie says she won’t do it for her, Lily clambers into the toy box and won’t come out. Annie threatens to go get the babysitter, having heard a loud noise and assuming that was the babysitter arriving. Annie returns when she finds someone trying to break into their house. Annie calls the police begging that they come to save them. Lily says she doesn’t want to be Batman anymore and hides just as the police arrive to rescue them.

The final play Ghostin’ by Shelby Markham and directed by Mallory Thomas Gleason opens on a scene in a living room. Oe girl, Katie, is on the couch doing homework with headphones and the other, Maddie, sits in a bean bag before she tosses something at the guy. Maddie declares the guy she was “so in love with” hasn’t texted her back in three days. They begin to bicker about if the guy is good for her or not. Katie insists that Maddie is lowering her standards and that Barret, the guy, doesn’t deserve her. Maddie demands that she give her an opinion but then shoots down Katie’s opinion, after discovering it is negative, over and over before throwing a fit. This causes Katie to clean up her things and go somewhere else to do her homework. Katie finally admits to feeling ignored because her little sister, Maddie, has “more problems” than her. Maddie turns to her and softly says she’d never considered that before. Maddie admits that perhaps Katie is right about Barret. Maddie sits trying to calm herself, taking a deep breath before giggling. Katie looks up annoyed as Maddie grins saying Barret finally texted her back.

Following the fantastic performances, there was a short question and answer period. One of the questions was that of working with the deaf. In a handful of the performances, they had sign language interpreters in the background. One of the actors talked about how the most enlightening part about working with deaf/hard of hearing was realizing that a lot of the lines were more easily identifiable when they expressed emotions with your body. This made it so the actors truly became more aware of how their actions portrayed each line.

The next inquiry was regarding if anyone had to adapt to new roles, what that was like. A few of the directors admitted they’d never acted before and some of the writers admitted to never stage-managing before. They discussed how they had to jump into new roles and adjust to things at a rapid-fire pace, how this was a challenge but also gave them a whole new perspective on what it was like for other people working under their directions.

The last question was regarding the swift creation process. Due to the short aspect of each play, everything had to be done in a much shorter timespan than they were accustomed to during longer performances. They agreed that often they just kept their “nose to the grindstone” so to speak in order to get it finished in time. They needed to hone in their dedication and keep driven and focused.

This delightful production was marvelously fun to watch! For information on any other Short Attention Span Theatre Productions or plays performed by UVU, visit https://www.uvu.edu/thenoorda/academic/.

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