Despite the name, Bake- Off is not a baking competition but a 24-hour playwriting festival that welcomes all BJU students to participate.
The Bake-Off performance will be held Saturday, Aug. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Stratton Hall. Seating is first-come first-served, and tickets are $3 at the door. This year is the 10th anniversary of Bake-Off. Harrison Miller, a faculty GA at BJU and one of the event coordinators, hinted at a special surprise for this year’s performance and some new things students can look forward to.
Beth Adkins, another GA and event coordinator, encourages everyone who can to come see it. Bake-Off begins Wednesday night when Adkins and Miller sit down with the student writers and supply them with situational and character prompts the writers have to include in their plays.
The writers then have 24 hours to write a 10-minute play. After the plays are submitted, Adkins and Miller gather with a group of graduate students to read and select the plays, directors and actors.
Early Saturday morning, the directors and cast receive and read their plays for the first time. Each cast now has less than 12 hours to stage their plays. For the actors, Saturday is a busy day. The moment they’re handed their scripts, they begin working on their lines and characters.
Sylvia Lafferman, a senior theatre major who has acted in Bake-Off multiple times, said the most challenging parts of Bake-Off are memorizing lines and discovering a character in such a short amount of time. But the effort to overcome those challenges is well rewarded.
“Giving a performance to the audience that they really enjoy—that is the best part,” Lafferman said. “Everything is for the audience.” For many actors, the challenge of memorizing and developing a character within eight hours is an intimidating task, but Lafferman encourages students interested in acting in Bake-Off to not be afraid.
“Despite how daunting it may seem, you can do it,” Lafferman said. Writers especially have an special opportunity to test their skills with Bake-Off. Miller said that while there are many opportunities to act and to run stage technology at BJU, there are fewer opportunities for students to write plays. Bake-Off offers positions in all three areas, making it unique.
“It’s a playwriting festival that allows students to enhance their creativity in all aspects of theatre,” Miller said.
R. J. Ring, a senior engineering major, said that writing for Bake-Off was like being given ingredients for a cake and then using those ingredients to shape and develop a general idea.
He encourages students interested in writing for Bake- Off to take the challenge and just enjoy the creative process. “Even if you don’t finish it on time, finish your short play and come back every semester and write for it [Bake-Off] as best you can,” Ring said. “It makes you a better writer.”
Adkins said one of the most challenging things about Bake-Off is getting students to write scripts. Bake-Off is not a competition of who can write or act better. Adkins said they look for plays that would be interesting to the audience and for actors who suit the characters.
All those moving parts come together to make the final performance. “We work together,” Adkins said.