Around-the-clock theater


Six plays, 24 hours. Those are the important numbers for the fourth annual 24-Hour Play Festival, which graced the Reynolds Club this weekend, challenging more than 40 students to speed from auditions Friday night through writing, rehearsal and stage direction and, finally, to a performance Saturday night.



  • 6:30 p.m. (Hour Minus-1.5): Auditions
    Prior to the festival, the event's curators accepted registration for actors, directors, writers, and crew. After announcing the six writer-director teams (most featured two writers and one director), the actors perform short skits to introduce themselves. For example, Charna Albert, '13, sings an a capella rendition of "I'm On a Boat" by the Lonely Island, while Amanda Fink, '12, reads the caption of a coloring-book picture of penguins.
  • 8 p.m. (Hour 0): Writing
    After writer-director teams agree on casts in an "arbitration" meeting—the actors were not present and found out their roles later on—the writers head to the Woodlawn Collaborative to work on scripts, which each run about ten minutes. Around 3 a.m., the writers convene to discuss and critique their pieces with dramaturg Chloe Johnston, AB'99. Says cocurator and writer Sara Tamler, '10, of early-morning writing: "There's a lot of creativity that comes out at 5 in the morning that wouldn't come out at any other time."


  • 9 a.m. (Hour 13): Read-throughs

    The writers hand scripts to the directors and discuss ideas during the first cast read-through. After the writers depart, the six teams split up for rehearsals around campus, with one group staying in the Reynolds Club's First Floor Theater for in-space rehearsal. (Each play got roughly an hour to work in the space.) With an alley set (meaning that the audience sits on both sides of the theater, facing each other), groups have to account for unique spacing issues. "We really do try to change something every time," cocurator and actor Ethan Dubin, '11, says. "We very much think of it as an experiment in a laboratory."

  • 4:30 p.m. (Hour 21.5): Tech/Dress Rehearsal

    The teams come back together for the final dress rehearsals to figure out blocking under the lights and sound cues, including transitions between plays. While some feature very few cues, "Denver," written by cocurator Tamara Silverleaf and Aileen McGroddy, both '10, includes multiple light changes, musical accompaniments, and announcements mimicking an airport PA.
  • 8:00 p.m. (Hour 24): Curtains

    The show begins. With about 120 students in the audience, including several seated on the floor on each side of the stage, the hour-long performance keeps the flash-theatergoers laughing throughout.

To see more of the on-the-ground experience, check out our festival pix and video.

Jake Grubman, '11

April 6, 2010