By Hope Thompson, The Circuit.
When senior Rosemary Herold first heard about a 24-Hour Theatre festival, she knew that the Benedictine College theatre department would be the perfect environment for such a thing.
“I heard about 24-Hour Theatre a few years ago from my sister, who went to school in Vancouver,” she said. “With our department’s close-knit familial atmosphere, and the requirements of our particular space, we probably had the perfect situation.”
Herold describes the event as a ‘phenomenon’ that began at schools on the east coast roughly 10 years ago. Essentially, it consists of a very scheduled-out 24 hours in which students write, direct, design, produce and perform several original plays.
“The fact that the shows have been thrown together in such a short amount of time, that student directors and playwrights have been given basically free reign, and that the audience is there for free, creates this atmosphere which I can only describe as a combination of hot-off-the-press creativity, student empowerment, Saturday-night vibe and an excitement that you can feel,” Herold said.
She initially intended the festival to be the subject of a Discovery Day project, and after the first event presented a large turnout; Herold began receiving requests to hold another event.
This year’s 24-Hour Theatre event held March 17-18, involved four playwrights, four directors and 16 actors.
“The student-run aspect of it means there isn’t any faculty presence the entire festival,” she said. “So it honestly kind of feels like a theatre retreat. It’s extremely low-key and at the same time provides lots of opportunity for hanging out and goofing off.”
Junior Eamon Mulholland volunteered as a playwright in this year’s festival.
“I love being able to see the actors put their own twists on something that I wrote,” he said. “It’s electrifying to write something and see it in real time less than 24 hours later.”
The event began at 8 p.m. Friday (exactly 24 Hours before the show was preformed) with a scavenger hunt set up by Herold to provide the writers and directors with their casts. However, by 11 p.m. most participants are able to make their way home for the night, with the exception of the writers who usually stay up to compose their stories.
In Mulholland’s case, he was only able to have about an hour of sleep before the whole group reconvened at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
“The nature of the festival really is to see what we can get done in 24 hours,” he said.
Each play lasts from 15-20 minutes a piece but according to Mulholland, the audience “really gets a lot of range” from the storylines.
Each of the four plays presented very different ideas, he said. While Mulholland’s play centered around the format of a teen comedy, there was “a social piece, a situational comedy, and a more serious story about the struggles within an AA group.”
Herold says she enjoys that it allows students the opportunity to experience directing and playwriting, especially due to the fact that there is only one playwriting class in the theatre department.
“This festival is literally the only opportunity student playwrights have to get their work performed here at school,” she said.
Though she is graduating in the spring, Herold remains hopeful that the 24-Hour Theatre festival won’t leave with her.
“Nobody has explicitly said they would like to take it over from me, but there has been plenty of implication that the tradition will continue. I trust somebody will pick up the slack,” she said. “I would certainly encourage others to do it next year if it occurs, because it is the perfect way to get involved in the theatre department, or even just get your ‘theatre fix’.”