Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Marco Island Academy High School Students Zoom Back for Second Bake-Off Challenge

The Marco Island Academy Performing Arts Department will present virtual readings of 7 short plays written in just 48 hours by students, alumni, and staff. Aptly titled, “Zoom Into the World of Theatre​​” the event, which features “staged” readings of the 7 plays, and will premiere on the MIA Performing Arts YouTube Channel (MIAPerformingArtsYouTube) on Saturday, September 26, at 7 PM. The event is free, although donations to the Performing Arts GoFundMe page are appreciated (  

Over the summer, aspiring playwrights participated in MIA’s second “Bake-Off,” a playwriting exercise/challenge used by renowned playwright Paula Vogel. The challenge was to write and submit a short play (15 pages maximum) based on a series of “ingredients” in only 48 hours. For Round 2’s “recipe,” the bakers needed to include the following ingredients: Summer, Darkness, Something Cool, A Book, and A Misunderstanding. For “extra credit,” participants could incorporate a gold hoop somewhere in their play. Each ingredient was left up to the interpretation and imagination of the playwright. The ingredients were posted at 7 PM on Friday, June 26th, and when the clock struck a7 PM on Sunday, June 28th, there were 7 plays submitted from the participants (4 students, 2 faculty, and 1 alumnus). 

To raise the stakes a bit, MIA Performing Arts Director Chris Dayett enlisted the help of his friends and professional directorsDavid T. Loudermilk and Christen Mandracchiato each pick one of the plays to direct over Zoom with a professional group of actors. Loudermilk is a thirdyear MFA Directing student at Minnesota State University, Makato, with international theatre, theme park, and cruise ship performance credits, and even Broadway and West End producer/investor credits. Mandracchia is a Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, where she is writing her dissertation on the theatre people and practices which shaped the “Disney Renaissance.” In 2017, she directed the award-winning Off-Broadway premiere of Dayett’s “Dorian Gray the Musical” for the New York Musical Festival. Her sound design for “The Triumph of Isabella: An Immersive Experience” was recently showcased at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. 

Submitted Photos

Loudermilk, Mandracchia, and Dayett used this event as an opportunity to experiment with the capabilities of Zoom to try to bring the magic of theatre to life on the small screen. Each director used a unique approach to their pieces. “There’s a great debate going on right now,” Dayett says. “Theatre is meant to be performed live and in front of an audience. Once a play is captured on camera, it crosses into the genre of film. Even though it’s a play, is it still a play or is it a movie? For us right now, it’s all we can safely do to keep our art form going. It’s been fun to experiment with Zoom.” 

About 10% of the entire MIA student body is involved in this event whether it will be writing, acting, directing, or marketing, as Dayett’s Production Design & Marketing class has handled the promotional aspect of this event, writing a portion of this press release and creating the social media marketing campaign.  

The lineup for “Zoom Into the World of Theatre” includes:  

  • “Abandoned” written and directed by Haylen Irvan 
  • “A Not So Simple Journey” written by Zoie Swift and directed by Riley Letendre 
  • “Are You Elf-in Serious?!” written and directed by Mr. Chris Dayett 
  • “It Was All in Good Fun” written and directed by Robert Davis 
  • Capulus Habentem Duos Sanctos” written by Mr. Rob Eder and directed by Ryan Sullivan, MIA ‘20 
  • “What We Wanted” written by Ryan Sullivan, MIA 20 and directed by David T. Loudermilk 
  • “Campfire Tales” written by Riley Letendre and directed by Christen Mandracchia 

The plays’ themes range from adventure and comedy to dramatic and enigmatic.


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