‘Mega Hot Lava’ fans flames of creativity

Playwrights are writers that do a little more than simply writing their story. Their works are meant to be transcribed into physical and visual performance. The process can be lengthy at times and much observation is required. 

Playwriting I and II is a course designed to teach this particular art. The class offers the chance to develop and work through these rough drafts of skits.

The Super Mega Hot Lava festival is a way to demonstrate these works in progress. This play festival held its Fifth Annual debut in Ives 76 last weekend. The event was created by the class instructor, Scott Horstein, as a method to present these works he was curator for this event. The festival was named as such to suggest that these skits were still “hot” and still need time before they “solidify.”

The actors stepped up and read from scripts. The black box setup in the studio and the lack of a true stage just made this event more of a reading than an actual performance. The readers would run lines through scenes in their fanciest style of rhetoric and with the stage directions dictated, one could imagine the scenario perfectly. 

“Drake the Great” was a particular anecdote about detectives investigating some murder involving a professor named Drake played by Connor Pratt. The storyline was almost a parody of “Sherlock Holmes” the main detective was James Holmes and the doctor companion, Rilan Watson. Though the names were so placed, there was not much hinting to similarities in Boyle’s characters. Each actor made the role simply with their lines, retorts, and some physical interactions. 

One key factor that is sought for is seeing each character get their due. Something like a line spoken would indicate something about a character. In “Drake the Great,” the main focus is the character of Drake who is a suspect related to the murder of a certain General Scott. But it is the part of Rilan Watson that stands out more in this piece than any other. He’s no cop or detective but simply a former war comrade of the victim who only wanted to be with his family that day for his daughter’s birthday. His honesty of personality is addressed and even comes to a comforting end when Rosie suggests going to see her before they further the investigation.

There was this sort of engrossing quality about these plays that all seemed to abide by a certain clockwork. They would start off upbeat and would contain a few jokes here and there. In “We Be Fish,” one sees the roles of a fish and an eel, Bubbles and Squeaks, in a tank just looking outside of it and working to plot an escape while avoiding a mafia of sharks who adhere to a starfish they refer to as “The Overstar.” The mood goes from this wondering moment of pending freedom to a hostage situation in which Bubbles ends up taking the bullet and poor Squeaks grieves on for her lost friend. 

However, “Theft” is one play where the focus is more drawn to the main character Emma and her idea of “breaking bad” by robbing a bank after she’s lived a life of honesty and coherence to authority. The influence of her mother and trusted friend come into the picture. The mother dubs the idea as a joke, and the friend tries what he can to get to the bottom of her motif to help her. But in the end she realizes that once she put her thoughts to words it became as light-hearted as a play.

The Super Mega Hot Lava extravaganza could be thought of as a painter looking at a picture they have worked on but have not quite finished. It gives them the chance to add features in order to help polish the final project.  

This event allowed for playwrights to put their prototypes to the black stage. Perhaps this molten rock will form some nice stones and milestones with good enough audience feedback, performance of the rhetoric, and the presence of characters.