One Day, Two Plays: An member of the 24 hour play workshop chronicles her experience!

On September 17th at 7:00pm, eight theater-loving students and alumni, along with a helper and the production team, joined to create, write, memorize, and block two short ten to fifteen minute plays. 24 hours later, they performed both these plays to a live and virtual audience. These twenty-four hours were filled with chaos, creativity, and comradery, both as a whole, and within the groups that created each play.

I was a member of one of these groups and would love to share some of the experience with you. After some acting warm ups and games, the eight of us who signed up were split into two groups of a writer, director, and two actors. Then each group headed off to come up with a story from scratch, and find ways to include some strange and curious props in the process.

My group sat down and started throwing around ideas, while also trying to figure out how to include a watering can, a book, an old clock, and a metal bin in our story. After a bit of discussion, the idea of fairy tales and storytelling became ingrained in our fledgeling play, and there was no turning back. Magic relics quickly swallowed up our everyday props, from the Chalice of Ultimate Power… and Destiny, to the great viking warrior Rafthormoryor’s stump gauntlet (AKA the bin). A plot built slowly yet surely around these concepts, until before midnight we had the start of a script.

In the middle of this wonderful creation, each role—directors, writers, and actors—was called away for a special session to learn tips of the trade. After the sessions finished, each person returned to their groups. Soon some short—and rather messy—run-throughs of the plays commenced on stage before we each returned to our groups’ rooms, and some of us fell asleep. 

By morning, the scripts were complete and the process of final blocking and memorization began. We had about ten hours left. With breaks for food, and also rest for the mind body, we work our way to confident skill with our plays. 

Finally, we all gathered in the auditorium for the final rehearsal. This was the first time the groups had the opportunity to see each other perform. They blew each other away. I know for me sitting there watching the other group perform, I was left stunned, wondering how they had created this masterpiece in under 24 hours. Additionally, the producers also created and put on a fantastic skit of their own that we all enjoyed. After that, all we had left to do was wait, and double check our lines.

At long last, 7:00pm on September 18th rolled around, and we found ourselves in a dark auditorium with people there to view us. We climbed on stage, the spotlights turned on, and it was time.

I could describe the details of the fantastic performances put on that night. Or I could let you go watch it on the Eastern Fine and Performing Arts Facebook page. It is available freely to any who want to watch it, and I highly recommend you do. I’ve been told it was fun to watch, and it certainly was a blast to act in!

I bet you can guess what all of us involved in the project did once the lights came back on and the show was done. 

We went home and slept.