Non-Stop Around the Clock

What happens when you lock a handful of eager students, an excessive amount of caffeine, and mountains of miscellaneous props in a room for ten hours? Aside from creating a royal mess, you enter the world of the 24 Hour Plays. In 1995, the idea of the 24 Hour Plays, intended only as a one-time event, was born in the east coast acting capital, New York City. However, nine years and 300 plays later, the idea has bloomed into the 24 Hour Company. This company was developed as a licensing program to allow amateur and student groups to experiment with the winning 24 Hour Play formula. The shows have been produced on Broadway and college stages. Even famous celebrities have starred in the plays to benefit non-profit organizations. Last weekend, the Andover Theatre Department was among one of the first high schools to ever produce the 24 Hour Plays. More importantly, this was the first time the 24 Hour Plays were entirely run by students. Theatre Producer Lilli Stein ’07 said, “Essentially, we took what is usually a two-month process and did it all in one day,” Starting last Friday night at 10 p.m., the madness began as a group of 6 writers convened in Steinbach Theater. Then, less than 10 hours later, directors and actors excitedly pored over the scripts to learn and embody their respective characters. They had less than 12 hours until the curtain opened. The diversity of subject matter and artistic direction that the six plays covered was remarkable. The topics spanned from death and cheating husbands to male nudity in the girls’ bathroom and innocent first kisses. Jess White ‘07 wrote a cynical comedy, “Eulogy,” in which three heirs to a wealthy businessman delivered sarcastic, mocking eulogies that revealed the deceased’s greed and lechery. The dark comedic quality of the show paired nicely with the set design, which employed dark violet lighting and a stark, austere set. The three drastically different characters added to the depth of the show. Exchanging quick off-colored jokes and sardonic remarks, Charles Francis ’07 and Britney Achin ’08 played off each other particularly well to the smirking audience. Thomas Smyth ’08 and Lynx Mitchell ’10 composed more abstract pieces that were entertaining and thought provoking. Smyth’s “E is for Everyone” bordered on absurdity, but was well suited with a capable cast who fully adopted their eccentric characters. The faultless comedic timing of Eric Sirakian ’10 highlighted Andrew Yankes’ ’08 joke delivery. Mitchell’s “Statue Surreal” was directed with clear artistic vision. The show experimented with lighting to convey abstract ideas and to create a dramatic effect. Sally Poole ’08 penned a charming play about two young children who share their first kiss. The adorable and heart-warming script took an alarming twist when the audience learns that the parents of the two children had previously slept with each other. The parents’ risqué past was a stark contrast to the innocence of the schoolchildren’s kiss. Jennifer Schaffer ’10 and Alex Cope ’09 played the youthful roles well, providing the perfect amount of inexperience and awkwardness. Blaine Johnson ’08 performed as a psychotic young woman in Kate Iannarone’s “Wit’s End.” The show, full of dark humor, stunned, amused, and captivated the audience. Johnson’s poignant presentation of the play’s dark subject matter paired well with the lighter moments provided seamlessly by Julian Azaret ’08. Finally, Nat Lavin’s ’07 “Why the Hell Are You in the Girl’s Bathroom, Perv?” contrasted effectively with Iannarone’s piece. Eli Grober ’09, running onstage in just a pair of green boxers, set the mood for this laugh-out-loud play. Half-naked boys seemed to be a theme for the show and left the audience rolling in fits of laughter in the aisles. Participants of the 24 Hour Plays praised the experience. Betina Evancha ’07, one of the night’s directors, said, “Everyone was really supportive of each other. It was a great group bonding experience” Theatre Producer, Lucas McMahon ’08 said, “The best part was involving so many different kinds of talent that the PA community displays. We were able to accurately demonstrate the intense determination and dedication of the students.” The shows’ tickets were in such high demand that many of those who wished to go see the performances were turned away. Sleep-deprivation and all, this event should become a yearly tradition at Andover.