Have you ever participated in lighting speed networking? You know the kind where you sit at a table and get you two minutes to introduce yourself, your business, etc. and see if there is anything in common and then move on. Well, I just participated along with 38 artists in lighting speed theatre AKA Lighting Rod with Patrick’s Cabaret. Patrick’s Cabaret is sadly in it sunset season, so they put on Lighting Rod, both to meet their mission and to a way to create theatre in a condensed way.

The Lighting Rod process involved two producers, six writers, six directors, and 24 actors. We all met Sunday March 25th, 2018 at the Phoenix Theatre in Uptown. We played theatre games to get acquainted and broke into small groups for skits. Then we took a 45-minute break while the producers sorted us into performance groups comprised of one director, one writer, and four to five actors. 

One of the games we played at the beginning involved sorting about 50 new headlines into piles representing a common theme. Now we learned that each group would receive a pile of headlines and have five days to create a play from start to finish. The plays were to be about 20 minutes in length. The writers got about 30 hours to write from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. Many of the writers hadn’t written a play before. By Tuesday evening, we had our scripts, were choosing roles, dissecting the piece, and rehearsing our parts. We decided as a team how we would use props, costumes, and set to enhance the piece. We got the script on a Tuesday, had tech on Thursday, and our show was on Friday. There were three groups performing on Friday and three  groups that performed on Saturday.

These performances were curated and produced by Kat Purcell and Marcel Michelle-Mobama. They did an amazing job to help people feel at home, welcomed, and at peace with the situation. The performances dealt with such heavy topics such as the future, modern politics (viewed as witchcraft of La Croix water), and genetic archiving. It was empowering to perform together as a diverse ensemble. Onstage we were like any other performing company. Would we mind our cues? Would we create the intended mood? Would the audience feel the emotion? Would the meaning come through? And for that brief moment would those other questions be set aside? Those insensitive and ignorant questions. Those often-hurtful questions.

The greatest challenge in Lightning Rod is the time crunch and it was palpable, but there is beauty in it as well. It taught us that we can create theatre and art within a few days. Many of the performers haven’t done theatre in a lightening way before. Most artists take weeks, months, or even years to work their craft whether it is writing, directing, or performing. We only got a small length of time to write, direct, and act. It was stressful. Having this added pressure, perhaps brought us together even more so. Many of us felt the closeness having done this in a lightening way.  

Have you ever done lightening theatre or seen lightening theatre? I tried it to stretch my performance muscles. However, I realized it was a warm and welcoming experience to be among a group of likeminded people trying something different. I encourage you to try it someday. You can make lightening theatre any day and any time. Try it yourself.

Check out Patrick’s Cabaret’s Sunset Shows.

Anything But English April 20-21ts at 7:30pm at Pangea World Theatre

Latinx-Q May 11-12 at 7:30pm at Open Eye Figure Theatre

FUNeral: June 3rdat 7:30pm at Lush

Patrick’s Cabaret is an amazing group. Support them in their last hurray!