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The Show Must Go On and On and On …

Over the weekend, six Swarthmore students put on an absurdist play in the most absurd way possible: by staging it 24 consecutive times over the course of 24 hours. 

Shelby Billups ’20, Max Marckel ’19, Arijit Nerurkar ’19,  Josie Ross ’21, John Wojciehowski ’19, and Emily Uhlmann ’19 performed Eugène Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano in Lang Performing Art Center’s Frear Ensemble Theater for the Theater Department’s acting capstone. The marathon began at 8 p.m. Friday and concluded the next day, with a serving of pancakes from 9 to 11 a.m. in between.

Visiting Assistant Theater Professor Alex Torra served as the work’s director. Also involved in the production were Nadia Malaya ’22 (assistant director),  Assistant Professor Laila Swanson (costume design), Jack McManus ’21 (set design),  Abby Schlackman (lighting design), Anthony Martinez-Briggs (sound design), Marla Burkholder (dialect coach), Sophie Nasrallah ’20 and Michael Lambui (stage managers), and administrative assistant Jean Tierno (pancake chef).

See photos from the performances below:

The performance was billed as an “uncompromising experiment in human endurance and the (possibly futile) ways we try to make sense of our world.”


The two English families in the play are interchangeable, which leads to non sequiturs and increasing confusion.


According to the Phoenix, the six performers were asked to forgo coffee and other caffeinated beverages in preparation for the marathon.


The 24-hour concept for the play was originally conceived by Madi Distefano and produced by Brat Productions.


Professor Laila Swanson and administrative assistant Jean Tierno served pancakes from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday morning to commemorate the event.


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