The Resurrection of PlayWeek


Performance from final day of PlayWeek

Christina Tashji

To be or not to be? More like, to go to PlayWeek or to not go? The obvious answer is to go, of course. Why miss out on a free show?

Studio 216, Bergen County Academies’ one and only student-run theater company since 2009, hosted a week-long event which ran from January 31 to February 3rd. The event is none other than PlayWeek, where actors perform cold reads. A cold read is a performance where the actors don’t read the script beforehand. These plays ranged from being as absurd as humans turning into wolves after eating pumpkins in order to turn into a wolf, all having mind blowing plot-twists.

After a three year hiatus, the event was brought back by Studio 216. The company’s two co-artistic directors, Alexi Gardella and Ella Goldstein, discussed the process behind putting the event together.

“During sophomore year in theatre, we all take Playwriting,” said Ella. “Our final project is to write a ten-minute play. We usually feature those plays in PlayWeek, though we do accept submissions. Since the last Playweek was when Alexi and I were freshmen, we decided to get in touch with old members to learn their past experiences with it.”

A form was sent to the school prior to the event, asking for play submissions, as well as if anybody would like to perform said plays. From there, the playwrights selected who they believed would best fit each character, not giving more than a short summary of the play to each actor.

“I’m really happy with this year’s PlayWeek,” said Alexi. “We spent so much time planning it, going through every single Google form of everyone’s frees like ‘who is free this day’ and ‘who is free that day.’ We really wanted everyone to be involved as much as possible.”

The club is typically run by one senior and one junior, so as to ensure there’s someone to carry on the club once seniors graduate. Unfortunately, the pandemic prevented this from happening, which left Alexi and Ella alone to pick up where the club was left pre-pandemic.

“PlayWeek brings a lot of people who aren’t in Studio 216 or AVPA-T and invites them into it,” said Ella. “It was so much fun casting and watching people enjoying it, and we can see we’re making a difference and bringing in people outside of theatre. Hopefully this inspires more people to get involved; we don’t want Studio 216 to die again.

“PlayWeek is one of the central events of Studio 216. We have set events done every year, and we wanted to revive that sense of normalcy within BCA theater. COVID impacted all academies, especially theater since it’s all collaborative. There was Zoom, but it really didn’t work.”

Due to theatre’s natural need for physical interaction, virtual school served as a major setback for most productions. Alexi and Ella hoped by hosting PlayWeek, students within, as well as outside of, the theatre academy can feel together once again. The event being easily accessible encourages BCA students to attend and possibly discover their passion in acting or playwriting.

“It’s one of our most open events,” said Alexi. “Especially since it’s during lunch so anyone can go. It’s low commitment, viewers don’t need to stay after school or necessarily go out of their way to attend. That’s what Studio 216 is meant for, it’s meant to be this low commitment thing. If you wanna put on a play, it’s not a huge production, you can just mess around and have fun; nobody’s doing this for a grade or anything.”

Alexi and Ella spoke about the current state of Studio 216, as well as their hopes for the future of the club. As of now, there are currently two juniors working alongside Alexi and Ella, which would hopefully allow the club to carry on in the coming years.

There are many other Studio 216-run events, such as Song Cycle which ran in December of 2022. Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming events such as the 24 hour Play Festival, Makeshift Shakespeare in the Park, and more!