Most plays require weeks of planning, rehearsing, and tech-ing before they are ready to be shown to an audience. But with the jam-packed schedule of the average college student, who has the time for all of that? This weekend, a group of playwrights, directors, and actors are condensing the whole theatrical process into one caffeine-fueled day with the 24-Hour Play Festival, a performance of six original one-act plays.
The first 24-Hour Play Festival occurred in Manhattan in 1995 by what would become the 24-Hour Company. Since that seminal event, the group has produced over 300 plays by the same process and performed them on and off-Broadway and across the country. Now, the 24-Hour Company also licenses its formula for success to amateur and student groups.
So how can you put on six one-act plays in 24 hours? Well, according the 24-Hour Play Company’s model, at 10:00 p.m. the entire production team (writers, actors, directors) gathers for a meet-and-greet. By 11 p.m., the actors and directors are free to leave and get as much sleep as possible. The poor writers, however, must toil away until the wee hours of the morning writing an original 10-minute play. At 7 a.m., the directors reappear and choose their scripts. By 9 a.m., those lazy actors have trickled in and begin memorizing and rehearsing the plays. At 5 p.m., tech rehearsals start. Then, at 8 p.m., after an incredibly long day of work, the plays are finally ready for the audience and the curtain goes up.
It may sound exhausting, but for those who can function without sleep, the experience can be very rewarding.
“I was involved in a 24-Hour Play Festival in high school during a summer arts program and loved the experience,” says Laignee Barron ’13, who is coordinating the event. “It’s a really fun, adrenaline-pumped rush of theater.”
This is not the first time such a feat has been attempted at Wesleyan. In fact, the 24-Hour Play Festival has become something of a tradition on campus. Two years ago, the bar was raised to new heights when the festival included a musical for the first time. (No word yet on whether or not someone will try it again this year.)
“Really, the entire show happens on Friday and Saturday. If we run into any rough spots or complications (which I hope we don’t), they would happen in those 24 hours. It’s different from a normal show in that the entire rehearsal process takes place in a day,” Barron said.
Find out if they can pull it off on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Patricelli ’92 Theater.