The 24-Hour Plays

The 24-Hour Plays first started last year as dramatic experiment to answer the question: Can a coherent play be done in just 24 hours? What followed was one of the most highly regarded and attended performances in Phillips Academy’s history. Given the success of last year’s show, this year four producers, six writers, six directors, 24 actors and one lonesome faculty member tried to answer the question: Can we top last year? What followed was the most intense and frenetic 24 hours I’ve had in my Andover career, and I was amazed how much energy and passion everyone had. From the technical helpers to the directors and actors, it was clear that everyone loved what he or she did or else none of this would have been possible. My part was pretty simple. As a director, I was given two basic objectives: to make sure that a coherent play was developed during the 12 hours we were given to rehearse and to not mess up. The director’s day started bright and early at 7 a.m. after a full night of brainstorming by the writers, where we were handed six glowing scripts and asked to pick one; then the real fun began. In short, our day was busy. The theater department seemed to take over the entirety of George Washington Hall; from the AV rooms to Steinbach theatre, people were strewn across the building muttering lines, wildly gesticulating or running to make a deadline. It took me a while to appreciate the insanity of the situation. Where major theater productions at Andover take months to perfect and drama labs weeks to rehearse, we were given a day to create an entirely original and entertaining dramatic production. In truth, I was very anxious when the producers told us that we had about five minutes till performances. I hadn’t fully seen another play and was given no reference point the quality of work, and we were having several issues with our props and set changes. But, with no time left for changes, I quickly wished my actors good luck and reminded them that if they screwed up, that I would be laughing at them in the audience. During the actual performance, I sat among a packed house, utterly flabbergasted. I was shocked at how fluid and put-together each and every play was. It was hard to imagine that a mere 24 hours ago, none of these plays existed. I watched the plays with an incredulous sense of awe mixed in with proud sense of achievement. Despite time working against us, we did it. The 24-Hour Plays is one of the most intense, emotional and fun experiences that I have had at Phillips Academy. Throughout the tears, sweat and yes, some blood, we put a clock next to our creativity and emerged with funny, charming and profound plays.