By: Mary Burger – Staff Writer
Many Centre students have experienced the infamous all-nighter, complete with books, papers, and the highly necessary snacks and caffeine. Centre Players recently experienced a new kind of all-nighter – one that doesn’t end at class time. From Fri., Feb. 28, to Sat., March 1, students participated in the 24-Hour Play Festival. This event spanned the course of 24 hours in which participants wrote, cast, designed, directed, and rehearsed a short ten-minute play. At the end of the 24 hours, the plays were performed in the Black Box Theatre on the fifth floor of Grant Hall.
The event was run by seniors Robyn Carroll and Lydia Kincaid. Carroll worked on a 24-hour play festival during her internship this past summer, but the concept has become quite popular among theatres recently. It’s an ideal outlet for busy Centre students who want to be involved in theatre but do not have the time to commit to semester-long involvement in a larger production. The festival is also designed to fuel collaboration between those who are involved in everything theatrical on campus and those who might not be as involved in DramaCentre’s productions, creating a low-risk and low-commitment event to celebrate the creation of theatre.
From 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., writers worked on their scripts. They began around 8:20 p.m. with most ending at 1:30 a.m. The last writer working was senior Bridget Sipek, who said she went to bed at 5:00 a.m. The writers knew the actors they were writing for ahead of time, which helped them to tailor their stories to the people who would be telling it.
The time constraints also provided the writers with more freedom and the opportunity to take theatrical risks. “It allows you to be a little more creative,” Carroll said. “It’s like, ‘I don’t have a lot of time, so I’m just going to do this.’”
At 7:00 a.m., the writers turned their scripts over to their directors. Junior Olivia Kernekin, one of the directors, ran a rehearsal with her two actors, first-years Emilie O’Connor and Katherine Peters, from noon until around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tech rehearsals began at 4:00 p.m., and at seven, a small crowd gathered in the Black Box to see the finished products.
“It is nice that it is a shorter play because we have more opportunities to work in depth,” Kernekin said. “We’re sort of getting up and doing art really quickly.”
Prior to the performance, Kincaid shared her excitement about how the event would go. “I’m hoping that it will give people a chance to try out new things – be that acting, directing, or writing – and maybe find out that they really like that thing, and want to do it some more,” she said. “So far, we are all having a lot of fun. I am memorizing lines right now about alien-ghosts. It’s silly, all the people are really great, and it reminds us all of why we like to do theatre.”
The run time for the festival was about thirty minutes and consisted of two ten-minute plays interwoven with two monologues connected by a final scene where the two characters finally interacted. The focus of the plays spanned from Britney Spears to searching for possibly nonexistent “alien-ghosts” to palm reading on a college campus. Everyone involved in the festival stayed after the performance to participate in a “talk-back” session, which allowed audience members to ask questions about the arduous process of putting the plays together in such a short amount of time.
Carroll and Kincaid were greatly involved with the entire process, as they organized the event and worked on key elements of the production, like writing and performing.
“Usually, it might take weeks, months, or even years from the moment a play is first conceived for it to reach any sort of production,” Carroll said. “This process condenses that time, and gives artists the opportunity to see a project from beginning to end in a very short amount of time. These plays are low-commitment and low-pressure. Often the time constraints mean that people are more likely to take risks, which as an artist can be very freeing.”
With the success of this first 24-Hour Play Festival, DramaCentre and Centre Players plan on turning it into an annual event in the upcoming years.