Students produce, perform three plays in 24 hours

Allison Mueller

 First-year Sam Scherrer and sophomore Ella Dierberger prepare for their production in the Blackbox Theatre. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

First-year Sam Scherrer and sophomore Ella Dierberger prepare for their production in the Blackbox Theatre. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Gina Scott / Winonan

Three plays: scripted, casted, designed, staged and rehearsed in 24 hours. This was the main goal last weekend for students involved in the theatre and dance department in producing 24 Hour Theatre.

Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, seniors Adam Calcagno, Kort Linblad and David Traff each wrote their own plays from start to finish.

“All week I’ve been formulating ideas,” Linblad said before Friday afternoon.

Linblad wrote a comedic play titled, “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” In the play, a man battles with his conscience about whether he should wake up or not.

Traff contributed another comedy, “Shenanigans,” in which partygoers engaged in arguments and duel to win over a girl.

The longest play, written by Calcagno and titled, “Dante’s Intern, Mo,” featured a man, Mo, who realized he has died and gone to hell. Mo is given a job as a salesman of temptations.

“The challenge I faced outside of the obvious— time— was condensing my idea into under 30 minutes,” Calcagno said.

In order for actors to be given a realistic amount of lines to memorize, each play is given a time limit.

“I had a lot of plot and character development in my head that didn’t get on paper, but I was satisfied with the result,” Calcagno said.

While the playwrights worked from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., auditions were held and set design began. Auditions for 24 Hour Theatre are different compared to regular season shows, because actors do not know what play they will be in, much less the lines they will need to memorize.

The actors work on ensemble building first, and then are given some basic lines to go through.

“Basically, we’re given five minutes to look at it and then we cold read the scene,” sophomore Ella Dierberger said.

Dierberger was cast the role of the conscience in Linblad’s “All I Have to do is Dream.”

“Auditions were really fun,” junior Kayla Nelson said. “I think it was a nice change of pace, working with your peers instead of your usual professors. It was more laid back.”

While the directors watch auditions, they think of each actor’s style, and how they work with one another within different genres.

“It’s a relatively selfless process,” Linblad said. “A lot of the time, you’re collaborating with the other plays and the other directors and writers. It’s not closed off.”

Once writing is finalized, the directors meet with the writers to divide the work and choose the actors. This year’s costume designer, Abby Schmidt, meets with them to discuss costume and prop design on a limited time frame.

“We try to keep the costumes as individualized as possible and take from the actor’s own closet as much as we can,” Schmidt said.

Through the whole process, people around the world were able to watch the entire production through a social video platform, “Twitch.” As the Digital Media and Publicity representative, Shelley Gorak oversaw the live stream.

“We’ve always had a live stream as far as I remember,” Gorak said. “And the stream last year didn’t get saved so it kind of made me think about if we had a more permanent way to save stuff.”

With Twitch, The THAD department is able to save the live stream of the 24 Hour Theatre productions to use in the future as advertising, as well as a keepsake of the plays created.

There is also a live chat room along with the live stream. Gorak set the stream under the “creative” section on Twitch, enabling anybody from around the world browsing “creative” to get a chance to view it.

“That’s kind of interesting for the people [involved in 24 Hour] that are suddenly getting a wider audience for what they’re doing than just the handful of people who show up for 24 Hour,” Gorak said.

24 Hour Theatre is a time crunch, but also a learning experience for many of the students involved.

“People are so ready to learn and everyone is ready for everything good to come out of this,” senior Bekah Bailey, this year’s production manager, said.

The prep work and collaboration was seen with the final performance of the plays running smoothly and a full house in the Blackbox Theatre.

“I am extremely proud of my actors and the final performance was easily their best run of the script,” Keagan Anderson, director for “Shenanigans,” said. “I’d say it went brilliantly.”

The final product of the students’ hard work helped them grow individually, as well as a group.

“24 Hour Theatre is a great showcase of what THAD majors and minors have been learning throughout their time in the department,” Calcagno said. “We all chip in and help each other with building, memorizing and develop a different type of ensemble than we have experienced before.”