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Vampires and Dr. Seuss appear in Little Nourse Theatre at 11:17

September 29, 2008 at 2:11 pm
By Collin Hazlett '12

Last Friday, at 11:17 PM, a crowd of excited theatergoers filed into the Little Nourse Theater in the ground level of Nourse Hall. A great deal of these theatergoers were also members of the Assassins' Guild, carrying heavy-duty Nerf weapons in preparation for the battle scheduled to begin at midnight. Besides the usual theatergoers and assassins, many were also playwrights- in fact, all of the plays scheduled to be performed that night were penned by members of the audience. And finally, nearly all of the people who came were also actors: the scripts were collected, shuffled up, and distributed randomly to members of the audience to perform.

This is Chelsea 11:17, a unique theatrical experience, where writing, watching, and performing a play amount to just about the same thing.

The process of performing the plays was simple: the "Gnomes" (the tie-wearing officials in charge of the proceedings) would announce the name of a play, everyone with a script from that play would get on stage, the audience would count down from five to one, making sure not to say "two" or "one" out loud (since that's how they do it in the TV business), and the script-holding audience members would be converted into actors there on the spot. It worked surprisingly well.

The subjects of the plays were very diverse- one play presented a rather Freudian explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs, one dramatized a young vampire's struggle to come to terms with his vampirehood, one chronicled the struggles of Severus Snape attempting to extract bezoars from the stomachs of fainting goats, and one retold the story of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, as it would have been written had Dr. Seuss been the author.

Dr. Seuss and vampires were common themes in Friday's Chelsea 11:17 plays, since the gnomes suggested them as possible topics at an earlier Chelsea show.

I was new to Chelsea 11:17, and so was required by the will of the people to take a script and perform. I got the part of Stacy in "The Hunter's Prey: Erotic Tales of Texas Vampires." Here are my three lines: "Lacey, I'm bored of human men." "Let's go to a vampire dance club." "Sure!". It was my first big break.

After all the plays were done, the Gnomes encouraged their audience/actors/writers/Nerf-toting assassins to write up new plays for the next Chelsea 11:17. The assassins left Little Nourse Theater cautiously, went upstairs to First Nourse and were immediately assaulted by rival assassins- who they fortunately managed to bump off or drive away. I, on the other hand, approached the Gnomes and asked if they had a theme in mind for the next show's scripts. They replied that peanut butter and jelly would be nice.

I'm working on it.