Saturday, October 3, 2009

24-Hr Play Redemption

So, last night kicked off this year's 24-hr play festival wherein five short plays are written, produced, and performed within, well, 24 hours.

We showed up at 7:30 p.m., introduced ourselves and contributed our costume piece and props which were to act as inspiration for those of us writing (but often aren't very useful). After introductions, actors and directors go home and sleep while writers draw actor's names from a hat to use as our cast, then we have until 6:00 a.m. to write a coherent short play - not an easy task when you're sleep deprived in the wee hours of the night/morning.

The five writers (me included) wrote until about 1:30 a.m. at which point, surprisingly, we all had a first draft ready so we decided to do a preliminary read-through. We already had a read-through scheduled for 3:00 a.m. with the show's producer, but since we had drafts we decided to do one early. I'm glad we did because it allowed me to do some edits. It's amazing how something sounds just awesome in your head and you snicker as you type it, but when it's read out loud it falls completely flat.

I edited and then decided I couldn't function anymore because of the fatigue. Plus I was facing a half hour drive home on dark country highways and I didn't want to fall asleep at the wheel. So I skipped the second read through. I finally got home about 4:00 a.m. then, even though I was exhausted, I didn't sleep well because I was hopped up on adrenalin and sleep deprivation.

So, I woke up at 9:00 a.m., showered, and drove an hour to watch two of my kids run a cross country meet in the most miserably icy, drizzly conditions you could possibly imagine. The good news is both of them cut significant time off their previous bests.

This evening we went back to the theater for performance. Let me take a moment to explain how badly last year's festival went for me. I'll admit it wasn't the best play I've ever written, but I drew the worst actors in the bunch, and they didn't memorize the play. In fact, they got lost about 2 minutes in and completely made it up as they went along. And they sucked at improv. I've never been so embarrassed. You could hear the crickets chirping the theatre was so silent. So I was slightly apprehensive coming into the theatre tonight, hoping it wouldn't be a rerun of last year.

I shouldn't have worried, though, because I drew really good actors this year and they nailed it. They didn't forget or drop any lines, they were professional, and overall it was full of awesome. I was so relieved and really, really pleased. The other plays on the program were all funny and went well, too. It's a testament to the quality of the actors this year that even when they forgot lines they covered really well and actually added to the humor in some cases as a result.

So anyway, that's my experience with the 24-Hr play festival this year. It's a really amazing experience for writers, actors, and directors, and I'm very lucky to have been involved in it for three years running.


JayTee said...

Wow! That sounds like fun. I've never heard of anything like that before.

Fran said...

You have a modest little award at my site, if you want to pick it up. I understand if you prefer not to.