The setting: the library.
It's stuffy and quiet as North Central College students frantically scan text books, trying to import as much knowledge into their brains as possible before finals next week.
Outside, they hear laughter and turn their gaze to the window, where they see other students skipping arm-in-arm to Madden Theatre.
They look perplexed. Where's everybody going?
One student mumbles aloud: "Oh, that's right, the student-directed one-act plays are at 7 p.m."
Books clap shut, the sound of chairs squeaking away from tables can be heard, followed by hurried footsteps and a door closing. The library empties.
More laughter can be heard coming from Wentz Fine Arts Center.
A tradition 20 years in the running, the one-act plays serve a dual purpose as the majority of the final grade for directing students and a welcome break for other students.
"It's a great tension-breaker the week before finals," said Deborah Palmes, who teaches the directing class. "Often they're comedies, so it's fun to come and be a part of this."
Ten directing students and a cast of 40 other students have been rehearsing for three weeks to produce the conglomeration of one-act plays - some taken from full-length plays, some written by the directors, and others that originated as one-act plays.
The performances opened Thursday and continue at 7 p.m. today at Madden Theatre in the Wentz Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. Admission is free.
"Everyone loves one act," said Hannah Toriumi, 19, a sophomore from Riverside. "There's always a huge range of people auditioning, from freshmen who have never auditioned and then seniors who have been in everything."
Toriumi's production, which she wrote herself, "Freeze: Caught in the Act" is a spinoff of the improv game "Freeze."
In it, her actors will improvise several scenes of people getting caught doing something they shouldn't do. As they get caught, someone will freeze them into position, and another actor will tag them and start a new scene.
"It's very funny," she said.
Costumes and props are sparse in the one acts, Palmes said, with an emphasis on acting and technique.
"We absolutely keep that very minimalistic so the focus will be on the director's choices," she said. "We want to look primarily at the acting, the character development with their timing and physical movements."
Although each play serves as a major portion of each student's grade, the directors act as a team to produce the overall product.
"It really is like coming to see a night of theater where you can see 12 to 15 completely different shows," Toriumi said. "I don't know where else you can do that in a time span of two and a half to three hours."
If you go
What: One-act plays directed by North Central College students
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20
Where: Madden Theatre in the Wentz Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
Info: (630) 637-5373