‘All in the Timing’ to offer six short virtual plays this summer

Julia Prieto performs as Mrs. Trotsky in the play "Variations on the Death of Trotsky," one of the six one-act plays featured in Fresno State's production of "All in the Timing" (Halle Sembritzki/The Collegian).

“All in the Timing,” a collection of short one-act plays by American playwright David Ives, is a virtual production coming to Fresno State this summer.

According to J. Daniel Herring, play director and department chair of theatre and dance at Fresno State, “All in the Timing” will provide a virtual Saturday Night Live experience to audience members and offer six comical yet relatable sketches. Each play is said to be both unique and engaging.   

“Each of the plays deal with different situations that we might encounter in life,” Herring said. “For instance, in one of the plays it’s all about putting your foot in your mouth and saying the wrong thing in life. ” 

The play Herring is referring to is called “Sure Thing,” which places a man and woman in a cafe together. The idea behind this sketch is to avoid uncomfortable awkwardness between the two conversationalists. 

The characters Bill and Betty attempt to have a conversation, and if it becomes stale or uninteresting, they will ring a bell, turning back time to a more pleasant point of the discussion.

There are many instances where the bell is rung to work its magic and rewind time, but the duo ultimately find a romantic conclusion in their favor despite the awkward moments.

Tyler Murphy, a theatre arts major at Fresno State with an emphasis in acting, plays the character Bill in “Sure Thing.” Murphy said his character humorously struggles with finding the right thing to say to Betty, played by Nicole Faulconer. 

Although Murphy said audience members could find this play to be completely relatable, there is an important takeaway from the experience in which he hopes they grasp. 

“Bill is such a relatable character for people to see because when the puzzle pieces connect, even if just for a quick second, you see who he really is and that in his heart… he is trying so hard to be the right person for Betty,” Murphy said. 

Tyler Murphy performs as Bill in “Sure Thing” (Halle Sembritzki/The Collegian).

Another play in “All in the Timing” is “Words, Words, Words” which places three monkeys in a room with the task of writing the classic tragedy by William Shakespeare, “Hamlet.” While much banter and comedic antics can be spotted during this act, the monkeys start typing words that make sense to them in the end.  

Reese Jade Herron, another theatre arts major with an emphasis in acting at Fresno State, plays the monkey Kafka, who is named after story writer and novelist Franz Kafka, in “Words, Words, Words.” 

According to Herron, “Words, Words, Words” is a comedic portion of the play with a lot to offer to virtual audience members. 

“I would describe ‘Words, Words, Words’ as an one-act that’s hilarious and very insightful,” Herron said. “It gives us the chance to value the importance of time and how everything that happens in life depends on perfect timing and patience. The one act is a dream for individuals who love literature classics.” 

Herron also said that viewers can expect to see a lot of “monkey business” and references to classic pieces of literature. According to Herron, “Words, Words, Words” also provides some tender moments to the audience as well. 

Rehearsals for “All in the Timing” began earlier this year, which meant limitations and challenges occurred while following COVID-19 health guidelines. 

According to the production’s stage manager Dylan Murphy, actors were still able to capture the essence of their performances very well, and audience members can still expect a great show. 

“I think you’re still getting the same level of intimacy from the people who are six feet apart as you would if they were right in each other’s faces,” Murphy said. “The actors being so committed to the ‘six feet apart thing’ [yet] still gave us the intimacy that we were looking for. It gave us, I think, a really, really, great show given the circumstances.” 

According to Herring, producing the play during the pandemic often called for a broadened approach to both creative thinking and innovation. Despite guideline limitations, however, Herring is happy with the way things came out.

“It made us all be more creative in the actor’s physical choices to communicate certain things and my choices as a director on how to stage it and make it fun but also make it make sense to what was going on,” Herring said. “I think we solved a lot of the problems and came up with some very fun moments.” 

The ticket price and streaming service for “All in the Timing” is said to be determined at a later date, but Herring stated that the price for admission, along with the streaming service, will be similar to previous productions held at Fresno State. 

The complete list of plays and cast for “All in the Timing” is available to the public online

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