Acting Against the Clock

Hannah Jastram

Seniors Julie Silver and Matt Murphy will head the first 24-Hour Play Festival next week under the auspices of the Lawrence University Improv Troupe.
Silver got the idea from Western State College of Colorado where her boyfriend attends. “They start at the normal time,” she said, and thanks to Lawrence’s late start, she was able to participate for the last three years.
Murphy and Silver spoke of the festival as an opener to the 2006-07 theater season. They also hoped to attract those interested in theater that might not be majoring and to introduce freshmen to the theater arts department.
Over ten years ago, Tina Fallon brought the 24-hour play concept to life in New York City. Since then, the 24 Hour Company has developed a licensing program for student and amateur groups. Silver and Murphy applied for rights, using LUIT funds.
The action starts at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday with a meeting for everyone involved. At 9 p.m., the playwrights hunker down in the first floor lounge of Hiett and start writing scripts based on the photos of the actors.
The playwrights have until 6 a.m. the next morning to produce a play of no more than eight pages with three or four characters. The directors arrive at 7 a.m. and the playwrights leave to get some sleep.
Once casting is finalized, the actors disperse to rehearse for the next six hours. The combined technical and dress rehearsal starts at 3:30, dinner gets squished in before call at 6:30, and the curtain rises at 7:30 p.m.
As for the outcome of the six concentrated hours of writing, Murphy said, “I’m expecting some shit, but I’m expecting some really good stuff, too.” The condensed time frame forces writers to be concise and to make big choices fast.
At Western State’s last 24-Hour Play Festival, all playwrights were required to work the line “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution” from “V for Vendetta” into their play.
“As you can imagine, there were a lot of references to Dance Dance Revolution,” Silver laughed. “We might do the same thing, but it’d be less obvious.”
The playwrights are discouraged from including monologues so that the actors can actually memorize their lines. Speaking of the perceived difficulty of learning an entire play so quickly, Murphy said, “Living in a play so intensely for 24 hours, it’s really easy.”
Silver and Murphy are both music performance and theater arts majors. Neither was considering theater as a major when they arrived at Lawrence, but they got hooked: Silver managed props for a play and Murphy auditioned for a show put on by the LU Musical Production. Now he is student-directing the LUMP musical later this season.
The duo encourages interested students, especially technicians and playwrights, to sign up before the Wednesday, Sept. 27 deadline. To find more information and to sign up, visit the bulletin board outside the theater arts department in the Music-Drama Center.