“I killed my mother, I killed my father. I’ll kill your mother, I’ll kill your father!”
This line was one of many memorable bits from Hinman Production Company’s (HPC) Binghamton Night Live (BNL) production ”BNL 12: Cheaper By The Dozen,” which featured 12 student-written sketches that featured a zany cast of characters in the same vein as BNL’s inspiration, “Saturday Night Live.” The Saturday evening performance also featured a Q&A with the different characters and a live musical performance by student band Happy to Be Here.
Katherine Quinn, a junior double-majoring in English and cinema who co-directed, wrote and acted in the production, detailed the fast creative process.
“We began writing the show not long ago,” Quinn said. “This process is really short, which is I think what makes it so unique. We kind of need to throw the show together, but we do it with so much care.”
Sarah Marshall, a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in teaching, who acted in the show, said they were impressed by how fast BNL came together.
“It was really amazing how quickly everything came together because we blocked each sketch once and by the next time we were mostly off-book and we were mostly ready,” Marshall said. “Like, we still had to smooth stuff out, but I was so impressed with how quickly we did this.”
The writing process proved to be just as spontaneous as the blocking process. Jack Harkins, a sophomore majoring in cinema who wrote the sketch “Birthday Girl” alongside acting in the show, explained how sketches came together.
“This was my second semester writing, and we started the same way every time,” Harkins said. “We have the directors go up to a whiteboard and just say ‘Does anybody have any ideas?’ Then we would all just raise our hands, just throwing out ideas for sketches, and some of them we like and some of them we don’t like.”
One of the most memorable sketches to come out of this process was “Goth Pass,” written by Todd Sweeney, which saw a group of different self-proclaimed goths competing against each other to get out of gym class.
Another notable sketch was “Square Dance Till You Drop,” which depicted a square dance competition straight out of MTV, complete with cheating and drama. Skyler Sharpe, an undeclared freshman, wrote the sketch in addition to acting in several others. Sharpe described seeing the finished sketch as a paternal experience.
“I can’t really explain it in any other way except that I feel like a parent and this is my child,” Sharpe said. “I watched it from the very seeds of a weird idea, grow up and now it is prospering. And like all the blocking, and all the costumes, it just looks beautiful, and I’m like ‘I’m so proud of you, this is your college graduation my child.’”
One of the most fascinating aspects of BNL was the wide variety of characters that the company played. Harkins described the challenges this brings.
“For sketch comedy, every single time you are on stage, you are playing a different character,” Harkins said. “So it is … a lot more in a different way because there is less stuff to memorize, but you really have to just get each character and it is a lot.”
Ryan Nostro, an undeclared sophomore who acted in the show and played drums for musical guest Happy to Be Here, said how acting brought different challenges for him compared to playing music.
“It’s different goals,” Nostro said. “When you are performing, when you are playing music you are trying to make the best possible sound and energy for the crowd. Whereas when you’re acting and such, it’s like you’re focused so much internally on how you’re presenting yourself whereas in music you are just presenting the music mostly.”
Quinn said she hoped this semester’s BNL provided a nice break from reality for audiences just like it has for her.
“Coming to BNL rehearsals was just such a nice reprieve from everything going on in the world,” Quinn said. “And I think, not to get too pretentious and put my art on a pedestal as if it’s like changing the world, but maybe if it can change someone’s day. I think if you’re having a bad day, and you can come and see a BNL performance and laugh with your friends and go home and giggle and smile I think that’s all I can ask for as a director.”