Review of 365 Days/365 Plays

Sam Houston State University College of Arts & Media

The Sam Houston State University Department of Theatre & Musical Theatre Presents: 365 Days/ 365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks

On March 28th at 7:30 p.m. at the University Theatre Center the Sam Houston State University Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre presented: 365 Days/ 365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks The Whole Cycle directed by Dr. Vicky Lantz and assistant director Rylie Patrick. The production  has a running time of 2 hours with no intermission and does contain a content warning due to simulated sounds of war and suggested violence.

The production of 365 Days/365 Plays is “The Whole Cycle” which includes 33 of the 365 plays produced by Parks. After the tragedy of 9/11, Parks took to writing and wrote one play per day over the course of the year; in doing so, she created 365 Days/ 365 Plays. As a playwright, Parks uses this tragedy to encapsulate the history of war throughout time and how it has affected American life throughout time. With her profound writing style that combines poetry with an avant-garde manner, she tells historical tales of America from the point of view of an African American woman trying to write a play.

With 33 plays being told within the two-hour run time, the production takes audience members on a journey like no other. The production gives homage to American life during war times of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln’s legacy, Greek tragedies, thoughtful concepts of fairytales, digging holes, and much more. Between the 33 plays that are introduced some intertwine by having multiple parts scattered across the production, while others stand alone giving a singular  message that institutes thought among audience members. While the play does not follow a particular order it keeps those in the audience on the edge of their seats for the entire duration due to the connecting pieces throughout the entire show and how they create a story.

When entering the theatre there are televisions set up throughout the theatre with “What Do You See” on all of the screens which catapults the play into motion once it starts. As the play progresses the televisions change to the name of each play that is being acted out. By the randomization of the order of the plays within 365 Days/ 365 Plays, the cast does a phenomenal job of giving emphasis on the important themes throughout the entire play.

The production follows the Writer who is based on Parks writing 365 Days/ 365 Plays. It follows her through the play focusing on the different plays she is trying to write, her process of creating a story, and how it comes to life. From costumes and set design, the cast and crew do an amazing job of creating a visual image that the audience can interpret for each play they go through.

As each play is performed the cast gives an impeccable performance for each with direction from Lantz and Patrick. These cast members embody each play in the Whole cycle by giving it their all. With such intense content and background of each of these plays, it shows that these cast members really embody each character that they play to convey the entire story. While the plays seem scattered, the audience can follow these characters throughout the entire production and connect these pieces on their own giving the play adaptability of the message to its audience members.

This production was phenomenal all the way around from costumes, set design and props, as well as direction and cast members, all play an integral part in telling this invigorating tale of so many stories.

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