24 Hour Playwriting Festival Review

By: Abby Poulos

The new format for the Student Playwriting Festival was less than ideal, but sometimes in the theatre department you just have to roll with the punches. Instead of the traditional month long rehearsal process, this year we had 24 hours.

In the traditional playwriting festival, writers submit short plays and then a number of them are chosen based on the number of people in Black Box Ensemble. The scripts are then edited alongside the director of the theatre department, and distributed to the different student directors from BBE. The BBE students then hold auditions for the roles in their plays, and discuss casting together. From there the month long rehearsal process starts, with a mandatory 5 or so rehearsals, ended by a traditional tech week and two shows.

This year in contrast, we were given our casts and a theme, had three hours to write a script, and about 8-10 hours to rehearse, ending with a one-show night.

On Friday the madness began. Friday was the day for script writing. We got our casts and worked closely with a writer to create a concept and how based around the casts and theme we were given. Luckily, with the help of many coffees and writing breakthroughs, the scripts got mostly done in the given amount of time, with only a few minor edits taking place late into the night. Through free chipotle and panicked brainstorms, all of the directors and writers got some pretty solid scripts ready for rehearsal.

After a night of somewhat good sleep and impulse stress editing, Saturday morning rolled around and it was time to rehearse. From 9am-7pm each director and assistant director worked non-stop with their cast to block, memorize, and run the show. Through quick trips to the prop and costume closet and meetings with T Paul about lighting and set, somehow the shows came together. After only a few minor mental breakdowns it was time for the first and only show to open.

At the beginning of people coming in, it seemed like the audience was gonna be pretty small. Kinda disappointing for the amount of work we had put in over the last 24 hours, everyone involved disregarded it and decided we had to put on a good show no matter what. But, as Ms. Hermann just began to give a curtain speech, frantic texts were coming in from friends and family calling for help because they were locked out at the middle school door. A squad of heros, cast members and directors alike ran up and opened the doors. Finally, a full house and a ready cast, the show finally began.

Honestly, this format was quite exhausting and not at all anything like the old playwriting festival. But with scheduling conflicts and other problems, there was no other way. So we worked with what we got and put on a (somewhat) okay show.