Whether you’re looking to plan an inexpensive date night or just wanting to escape the heat for a few hours this weekend, look no further than Summer SOUP’s rendition of “Wondrous Strange.”

Summer SOUP is the University of Oregon’s summer theater program that challenges students to audition, rehearse and perform plays all in a matter of weeks. The program’s motto is “Theater by the Seat of Our Pants,” or, SOUP.

On Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m., students and community members can watch “Wondrous Strange” for free at the Hope Theatre in the Miller Theatre Complex on campus.

“Wondrous Strange” is a collection of four short plays written by up-and-coming female playwrights Meg Miroshnik, Martyna Majok, Jiehae Park and Jen Silverman. The collection addresses themes of the supernatural, paranormal hauntings and loss.

“It runs the gamut,” said Tricia Rodley, UO theater professor and founder of Summer SOUP. Rodley, who is also directing “Wondrous Strange,” said there will be no shortage of gasps, laughs and hard-hitting moments throughout the production. 

UO students Michael Teague and Lauren Nychelle work to perfect lighting and audio. Summer SOUP Theater presents “Wondrous Strange” on July 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hope Theater. (Henry Ward/Emerald)

It’s really funny and there are very random parts in it that make it funny,” said stage manager Kyleen Carter, a junior theater major. “As a stage manager, I love listening to the audience laugh because I know we all did our jobs right as a production team to come together and make sure the audience could enjoy it.”

The program began last summer as a way for students to continue honing their skills and building their resumes in the off-season. A typical theater season runs from fall to spring, but Summer SOUP allows students to stay active in the theater community while providing more flexibility for vacations and jobs than the regular season. The actors rehearse most nights for two weeks before the production and earn class credit for their participation. The program is open to all students who are interested.

“It’s actually one of the most fun plays I’ve worked on, to be honest, just because of the randomness,” said Carter.

Students can try out new roles and learn a variety of skills during the summer theater program. Tanna Stafford, a junior theater major, mostly does “odds and ends” for the theater during the regular season, but is an actor in this summer’s performance of “Wondrous Strange.”

It’s really, really upbeat and really fast in a good way. The name rings true, we’re flying by the seat of our pants, but it does allow for a wider range of exploration,” said Stafford.

Audience members can look forward to quirky plot lines, spooky jump-scares and even a musical number on the best ways to murder people. There are Ghost Bros, sacrificial rituals and haunted asylums that are sure to entertain.

Stafford said everyone should see the play because “It’s a fun, haunted experience that’s sure to keep you on your toes.”

In late August, Summer SOUP will perform a staged reading of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The performance will be Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25 at the Hope Theatre. There will also be free play readings by UO playwrights during Week of Welcome.

Summer SOUP Theater presents “Wondrous Strange” on July 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hope Theater. (Henry Ward/Emerald)

Correction: The spelling of Stafford’s name was corrected as well as the name of the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”