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Eastern’s 24 Hour Play Workshop: Insight on the creative works of Eastern students and alumni.

When you think about how long it takes to write a play, you probably think of it taking days, weeks, months, or even years to finish and get to be stage-ready; however, a group of Eastern students and alumni, along with a production team, took on the challenge of writing a play within only 24 hours!

Students who were interested in participating in this event were assigned to a group and were given a specific role within the group: an actor, a writer or a director. Anna Davis, a sophomore Music and Vocal Performance major who participated in the event for her second year, was assigned the role of a writer for one of the two groups.

“I had never really written a play before doing the workshop, and for some reason, I’ve been a writer two years in a row. The energy definitely comes from your group. I got so much energy and so many ideas from the people that were around me, and with this virtual format, I actually got a lot of ideas in seeing what kinds of props they had,” Davis said.

With COVID mandates restricting what’s possible for theatre and stage performances, the entire event took place online and the final product streaming live on YouTube on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.. However, spending 24 hours straight in front of a screen isn’t healthy or practical for students, so the 24 hour workshop took place over the course of several days.

On Thursday evening, the groups met for the first time and brainstormed ideas for a few hours. The writers then took some time to work on their scripts on Friday before practicing them with their group and doing a final round of edits. Saturday was focused on the last few practice run-throughs using the software that would be used for the live performance to make sure that everyone was comfortable using it and to minimize the risk of any technical difficulties at show time.

The live performance consisted of two plays: one, a comedy about a witch visiting the wrong person and trying to sell her potions and serums, resulting in unexpected side effects like growing taller, shrinking and turning into a child, and the other about a video game programmer trying to fix a bug in the game right before it launches, only for the hero of the game to come to life and resist being controlled by the game’s code, dealing with themes of free will, duty, power and identity. Though very different plays, both were highly entertaining and used the virtual platform creatively to get different plot points and ideas across.

“When my group started, we were mostly talking about ideas where maybe we could look small or we could use Zoom backgrounds of really big places so that we could look small. There were definitely a lot of ideas going around about things that we can’t necessarily do on the stage that we could explore over Zoom,” Davis said.

From moving cameras to different angles to create a forced perspective to using the different screens as different character windows in a video game, not only did the groups write, direct and perform a play under 24 hours, but they were able to use their “restrictions” to their advantage in this creative endeavor.

Overall, these students and alumni proved that it is completely possible to create wonderful and entertaining plays in only one day’s time with the added caveat of not being able to be with each other and perform in person. It is a feat truly deserving of a standing ovation and round of applause.

Look forward to events like these in the future and perhaps be reminded of the beauty of worship done in community.

Disclaimer: Every year, Eastern University has an event showcasing the community’s creativity by hosting the 24 Hour Play Workshop in which students and alumni work together to create skits in under 24 hours. Normally, the event takes place in the auditorium in groups; however, this year looked a little different due to COVID-19. Pictured is a skit from a previous workshop.

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