On Oct. 22, the Trinity University Players (TUPS) presented the 24-Hour Play Festival. The name of the festival comes from the fact that the short plays performed were all written, produced and performed over the course of 24 hours and focused on the theme of distance.
Holly Gabelmann, a sophomore theater major, was the producer of the festival and was drawn to its uniqueness.
“What I really like about it artistically is that it is a very raw artform and it’s very challenging. Sometimes, in doing something this quickly, you find things you normally wouldn’t find because you are looking for quick solutions, and are forced to be more creative than you are usually,” Gabelmann said.
While almost all of the work occurs within the 24-hour time period, there was some preparation before the show. Students applied and were chosen by Gabelmann to be a part of the production. She also organized the system for the randomization of the plays. Gabelmann put slips of paper with the different factors of the plays such as the overall theme, number of actors, director and a mystery prop in hats that the cast drew from. She also created the hats from which many of the parts of the play originated from.
Luke Jandrain, a sophomore English and history major, was one of the performers chosen for the festival.
“I’m feeling more excited than nervous. As an actor, I’m not the type to chew on a role for a long time. I like to find what I feel this character’s about immediately, and practice and perfect it until it’s go time. The short timeframe is a great distillation of that,” Jandrain said before the 24 hours began.
Before Jandrain and the other actors could memorize their lines, the writers had to write the scripts. The cast met as a group at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 to draw the different elements. Mary Jo Grey, a senior theater major, was one of the writers. Grey drew four actors and the mystery prop of skulls. With them, and the theme of distance, she wrote her play, “The Madness of One Manlet.” Her play was a snapshot of the difficulties of a crew trying to produce Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” with only one actor for the entire play.
“It’s fun and very empowering to see something in production that you helped make that wasn’t even a thought 24 hours before, like there was no trace of it on this planet until we began. It’s very refreshing. Maybe the lines weren’t completely memorized, but the gist is there,” Grey said.
The writers had until 6:30 a.m. to write their scripts, and from there it was the directors’ job to read and cast their shows. The actors then arrived at 8 a.m. and began rehearsals, which did not end until the dress rehearsal at 6 p.m.
“We just kept running the plays over and over. The plays are all pretty short, so it’s not a massive challenge,” Jandrain said.
The hard work of all of the staff was evident when the festival began at the end of the 24 hours. The Attic Theater was completely filled. One attendee was Mykaela Cali, a sophomore psychology major.
“I think the 24-Hour Play Festival is a really cool concept. I am impressed with how everyone was able to come together in such a short amount of time to put on this production. Taking into consideration the time constraint, many things could have gone awry, but the performances were seemingly effortless,” Cali said.