BYU students perform and direct annual Microburst Theatre

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Natalie Bothwell
Rachel Bennett and J.D. Shaeffer on stage during the first play of the night, “BYU Time Experience.” They enthusiastically embarked on their journey as students and said they find that their time at BYU slips by all too quickly. (Natalie Bothwell)

Writers, directors, actors, designers and many more collaborated to present “Taking Time, Making Time,” a creative production running from Jan.13 – 16, 2016 at the Nelke Theater in the BYU Harris Fine Arts Center.

This annual show has expanded in innovative ways according to its new director, Professor Rodger Sorensen from the Theatre and Media Arts Department.

Microburst Theatre began three years ago with five to six plays performed and each was about 10 minutes in length. These plays were exclusively written by students enrolled in a screenwriting class. There are 13 plays, six student directors and one script.

Sorensen said he wanted to add a new twist to that approach for this year’s show.

“I wanted to change the format of the (plays) so that it could be any length up to 10 minutes, and instead of having the plays come from a class, any student and any faculty member could submit,” Sorensen said. “We had 36 plays submitted and we were pretty jazzed about that.”

A prompt relating to the theme of “time” was posted to the department website, and from there, 13 distinctly different and creative plays were selected.

Sorensen said participating in a production like Microburst Theatre can open up a gateway to valuable experience and future opportunities.

The first BYU production of Microburst Theatre received national recognition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, according to Sorensen. He said now those students have national exposure.

Natalie Bothwell
Actors Logan Ruesch, Rachel Aylworth, Ting Chang and Mari Toronto in “A Blossom Tree,” a thoughtful story about two people from different time periods crossing paths. (Natalie Bothwell)

“(Participants) get experience in developing and refining their scripts and seeing them realized with actors, directors and designers,” Sorensen said. “That is the most important thing, they get that refinement and therefore they improve their writing skills.”

Logan Ruesch, a junior studying theatre arts studies, said his abilities were stretched in a variety of ways. Ruesch had to memorize his entire script backwards for one of his characters in Daniel Fifield’s play entitled “BYU Time Experience.”

“It was a hairy task,” Ruesch said. “I started memorizing in November and spent all of my Thanksgiving and Christmas break piecing it out. Then there was my 20 minute walk every day. I would just recite to myself. I got some funny looks.”

Ruesch also mentioned it was quite the adventure trying to orchestrate all of the scripts, people and elements into one fluid show.

“It was a crash course in communication among a lot of people,” Ruesch said. “You had different directing styles, and these different backgrounds came together and you had to connect them.”

The theme of “taking time, making time,” manifested in each play inspired Ruesch to take full advantage of his time as a student at BYU.

“We have this BYU experience, but it’s gone quick. Before you know it, you’re the old man with the BYU bumper sticker that’s still rooting them on,” Ruesch said. “Sometimes you wish you could go back and see it all. It’s something that we need to embrace and enjoy now when we have it.”

Actress Sierra Docken, a junior at BYU, said she took a better look at how she is utilizing her time after participating in Microburst Theatre.

Natalie Bothwell
Francisco Acosta and Teagan Clark act as a separated couple engaging in a heated argument. Shay Ruesch acts as their daughter, inflicted by their broken relationship. (Natalie Bothwell)

“Two of the three plays I was in heavily dealt with the theme that what we do with our time makes a difference – in the life to come or later in our lives,” Docken said.

“Taking Time, Making Time” will be performed on Jan. 13 – Jan. 16 at the Nelke Theater. Tickets can be purchased in the Harris Fine Arts Center or online.

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