The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

24-Hour Theatre Project brings the pressure

Actors Amaris Bates ’18 and Alex Ullberg ’17 had only 12 hours to prepare for performance. Photo by John Brady.
Actors Amaris Bates ’18 and Alex Ullberg ’17 had only 12 hours to prepare for performance. Photo by John Brady.
Actors Amaris Bates ’18 and Alex Ullberg ’17 had only 12 hours to prepare for performance. Photo by John Brady.

Ronnie Ruse

The 24-Hour Theatre Project was presented by the Grinnell Department of Theatre and Dance last Saturday, April 16. The project was established two years ago by Ian Saderholm ’15 with the goal of creating a low-pressure, accessible way for students to write, direct and act in original theatrical pieces.

“It started with this idea of art based on adrenaline … and that your first instincts are often right. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on a piece for it to be good,” said Sandy Barnard ’17, the organizer of the event.

Unlike typical productions by the Theatre Department that require weeks of rehearsal, the 24-Hour Theatre Project is low time commitment.

“I feel there’s a lot of fear when you’re trying something new, and this idea that, ‘Oh, I can just jump in, it’s only 12 hours and if it turns out to be a disaster then I only wasted 12 hours [on] is very appealing,” Barnard continued.

The method of the 24-Hour Theatre Project is simple. Students sign up for the project via email and choose whether they want to act, write or direct. They are then placed in random groups, where they work as a team over the course of 24 hours to create a piece of theatre.

Writers spend the first 12 hours crafting a script. Actors, directors and designers are then left with the next 12 hours to memorize lines and block scenes before the final performance is unveiled at the end of the day.

There are only a few rules regulating performances: there is only one director per play, writers are allowed to work in pairs or alone to write about any topic they choose and actors must be distributed evenly and randomly among the different scripts. This freedom and ease of participation makes it simple for many different students to get involved in theatre.

“It was a chance for me to get back into [theatre] with a low-risk, low-stress environment,” said Nyx Hauth ’19, director of this semester’s production. “24 hours I think is the perfect time frame. Less than that would be not enough time to produce something that I was satisfied with. But with 24 hours it’s enough pressure that you have to get things done and you just have to go with the flow … it’s a good kind of pressure.”

This semester’s production saw six students participate and put together one play, titled “One Incredibly Weird Death that will Make You Glad to be Alive: a Stoner Tragicomedy in Seven Scenes.”

The play is about a man named Blake who is killed when a vending machine falls on top of him as he tries to get a midnight snack, and how his friends cope with his death. One particularly memorable scene had the friends visit a smoke shop to take their minds off the tragedy, only to be hit with the memorial Twitter campaign “#vape4blake.”

Amaris Bates ’18 played one of the two friends in the piece, starring as a beanie-wearing Canadian teenager. The action focuses on Bates’ character’s attempt to comfort Blake’s heartbroken girlfriend, portrayed by Alex Ullberg ’17.

Rehearsal began at 7 a.m. on Saturday and the actors worked hard to give a great performance within their limited time frame. Showtime was 7 p.m.

“We went scene by scene, worked on character development, like what we’re doing and the motivations behind it,” Bates said. “Then we ran it a few times with the technical elements like light, sound, props and got the costumes established. Then it was time for the performance.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *