The 24 Hour Plays

The hands of the clock raced towards the finish line of the twenty-fourth hour. Writers, exhausted from an entire night of guzzling caffeine and writing scripts, waited restlessly as directors and actors spent the rest of the day frantically memorizing lines and rehearsing the plays for the two performances on Saturday night that would bring the end to their marathon. Since 2007, the 24 Hour Plays has been one of Andover’s main theatre traditions. This year, the student-run production hit the stage of Steinbach once more with witty lines, dedicated acting and precise stage command, presenting a thoughtful and humorous performance. The six plays touched upon almost every emotion. Whether comical or serious, all the one-act plays turned out incredibly polished. Audience member Kate Chaviano ’12 said, “It was cool that there was so much variety even though [the writers] didn’t necessarily communicate with each other about the plays. There were some plays that were really dark and sad, showing raw things and others that brought lightheartedness along with some deeper issues.” A comedic piece, “Home-ly-less” written by Alec Weiss ’11 and directed by Evan Eads ’12, opened the performance with blunt humor, evoking laughter from all around the room. The play revolves around a self-conscious man, George, played by David Tylinski ’12, who wishes to change his image in order to impress his girlfriend. However, after offering a homeless man his wedding ring in return for “attractiveness,” George’s girlfriend unexpectedly falls in love with the homeless man who then uses George’s ring to propose to her. The turn of events, along with dramatic acting, added to the play’s hilarity. “I thought one of the best lines was David Tylinski’s delivery of ‘You took my virginity!’ He said it like the act was a robbery, and it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard,” said Andrew Schlager ’12, author of another play titled “Piss in the OJ.” In striking contrast to the first play, the second piece, “A Will to Die,” written by Christian Zhang ’12 and directed by Tia Baheri ’12, depicts a hospitalized mother who dies of shock after realizing that her daughter cares only for inheriting her money. The mother concludes that life has been useless, because she had brought nothing to the world but her selfish daughter, and the room falls silent with the long beep that signals her death. Continuing in the same sober tone, “Up to John,” written by Julianna Meagher ’11 and directed by Daniel Santamaria ’11, illustrates the progression that teenagers go through as they grow and change, depending on the decisions that they make along the way. The characters’ subtle actions and efficient use of props helped to convey the play’s deeper meaning. Tailor Dortona ’12 wrote a thought-provoking piece, “Holy by the Pound”, directed by Eliana Kwartler ’12. The play presents a future world in which a man from the past arrives to highlight and question the problems that arise in corporate corruption. Dortona’s idea for her play came to her right before the writing session began. “Sam Oriach ’11 came in with a bible, and then Tylinski, during the casting, said he had sold his soul to the devil, and right away I knew that my play would be about corporate corruption.” The play on words and the use of humorous commercial breaks throughout the play kept audience members on the rims of their seats. Tackling yet another serious topic, “Piss in the OJ,” written by Andrew Schlager ’12 and directed by Arianna Chang ’13, is set in an Andover boy’s dorm room. The play deals with the conflict between three boys over the racial and class issues in college admissions. Schlager’s focus on dorm life strengthened the audience’s ability to relate with the play presented. All three of the actors did a remarkable job of portraying each of their characters and delivered their lines with a fitting tone. “It showed a very honest and kind of a touchy subject, which we don’t approach often in the way that it was approached in the play, and I thought that was really interesting,” said Chaviano. The dramatic comedy, “Who is Mr. Panda?,” written by Mike Mackay ’11 and directed by Miranda Haymon ’12, wrapped up the show with another swing to the more humorous side. However, the humor is dark, as employees relish in their newfound happiness and freedom after the death of their boss. The use of sharp puns, heroic tones and lighting induced enthusiastic amusement from the audience, filling Steinbach with the laughter it had started with. This play seemed to be the ideal way to end a night of creativity and hard work. Most of the participants agreed that the 24 Hour Plays was a rewarding experience, bringing them much more than they had expected. Unexpectedly, several students mentioned that they were not so tired. Cammy Brandfield-Harvey ’11, an actor in “Holy by the Pound,” said, “I think overall it went really well. What’s really fun about the 24 Hour Plays is how you come in and have to get into a character that you don’t expect at all. It gives you energy.” “I think that when you’re putting on a show in a short amount of time, you have people throwing ideas out because everybody wants it to be the best performance. There’s no holding back, and that’s what I like about it,” said Nikita Lamba ’11, who acted in “Who is Mr. Panda?.” “It’s my most favorite event of the entire year,” she added. “What I enjoy most is how you get to meet so many people in the process. People you might not normally run into during classes,” said Kwartler. “There’s an odd intensity to [The 24 Hour Plays]. It’s like an incredible bonding. For most, it’s like a twelve-hour session of intense group work. If you’re learning a line, you’re doing it together. You are just together for the whole day. It’s a lot of work, but at the end it is so awesome because it pays off so well,” said Nick Tonckens ’12, actor in “Holy by the Pound.” The producers Patrick Brady ’11, Mary Polk-Bauman ’11 and Joanna Wang ’11, along with the faculty advisor, Mr. Mark Efinger, were largely responsible for this successful show. Although the production process lasted for only 24 hours, memories of the experience for both the performers and audience members will remain far into the future.