24 Hour Plays: Countdown To Showtime

Only one night a year are students allowed to roam George Washington Hall all night, devouring pizza and caffeine. This is the night before the 24 Hour Plays, when six writers pull an all-nighter to write six one-act plays that are directed, rehearsed and performed the next day. The clock steadily counts down the 24 hours until the entirely student-created production opens for audiences. This year’s 24 Hour Plays were just as crazy and frenzied as usual: Writers stayed awake all night thanks to a mixture of caffeine and adrenaline. “I think several quarts of coffee were consumed,” said Katy Svec ’10, a producer of the 24 Hour Plays. Actors memorized lines and ran frantically around campus, gathering giant beanbags and helmets for Norse gods. Directors decided how to interpret the scripts and told their actors what to do. Techies designed lighting and sound effects and producers coordinated the entire process. All in all, it was madness, but the result was a 90 minute show of excellent quality. The six plays were a diverse mix of pensive dramas, rollicking comedies and everything in between. Audience member, Apsara Iyer ’12 said, “They did good job having a balance of plays that didn’t stray too much toward the comedy edge and didn’t become too philosophical but kept a good balance.” “Make the Right Choice,” written by Julianna Meagher ’11 and directed by Patrick Brady ’11, depicted the struggle of a gay couple at boarded school. Rachel Coleman’10, who played the parent, described the play as “highly emotional and provocative.” Likewise, “The Last Stand,” written by Laura Wu ’10 and directed by Jeannine Anderson ‘11, ventures into the conscience and past of a hit-man (Eric Sirakian ’10). “I just wanted to have a play that was introspective of a person’s life,” said Wu. Comic relief came in the form of “Confessions of a Demi-God,” a witty portrayal of the afterlife written by Mike MacKay ’11 and directed by Lily Shaffer ’10, and “Two People in a Restaurant,” a blind-date saga written by Hannah McGrath ’11 and directed by Cliff Brannan ’11. Uproar ensued in “Lemons,” a romantic comedy about a fitness club written by Andrew Schalager ’12 and directed by Eliana Kwartler ’12. Uday Singh ’12 amused the audience with his portrayal of a narcissistic personal trainer with an ability to swim upriver, “like salmon.” The apocalypse arrived in “In Five More Minutes, Ground Zero,” written by Aleksander Huzar ’ll and directed by Mary Polk-Bauman ’ll, raising ethical issues about the end of the world. Should one fight for survival or accept the inevitable? This poignant play explored whether the “post-apocalyptic American dream” of living underground eating military rations would really be worth living. Participants agreed that the putting together the 24 Hour Plays was a draining but incredible experience. Carolyn Whittingham, an actor in “In Five More Minutes, Ground Zero,” said that the process was miserable and hectic at times, but still rewarding.“I acted in the [24 Hour Plays] last year, and I don’t know what made me do it a second time, but, here I am,” she said. “It was not as stressful as I thought it would be,” said Cammy Brandfield-Harvey, an actor in “Two People in a Restaurant.” She noted that it was “motivating” to hear the audience laugh and respond to the play. “It was amazing. It was actually just so full of energy and fun and everyone one was just going crazy,” exclaimed Shelby Carpenter ’12, an actor in “Two People in a Restaurant.” Mark Efinger, Instructor in Theater, was impressed by the efforts of the members of the show and by the respectfulness of the audience. He said, “One of the things you worry about is that there’s an awful lot of silliness in these shows, and if the audience goes too silly then can they come back and deal with something serious?” He cited “Make the Right Choice” as one of the more serious plays because of its subject matter, homosexuality. “That’s a pretty serious subject, and I thought it was dealt with very responsibly by the writers, the directors, the actors and the audience. That’s one of the unusual things about [Andover] that I’m always rather proud of,” said Efinger.