A Race Against Time

Theatre hosts annual 24-hour PlayFest


Time was running out and the anticipation grew the closer it got to the final performance. It was crunch time, and the actors were rehearsing their scene for the last time before they went on stage. The director, junior Logan Collins, sat watching, trying to mask his worried expression. Running lines, they sat in a circle as Collins gave them last minute words of encouragement. It was time for the show.
This is Theatre’s second year to put on 24-Hour PlayFest, students are split into five groups by head theatre director Denise Tooch and assigned a role of either writer, director, technician or actor.
“I love the fact that it’s all student done,” senior and assistant tech director, Morgan Piper, said. “That’s awesome to me.”

Writers start scripting a scene that they create based on props of their choice, and they write from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. The following day, directors and actors come to school at 7 a.m. with the completed scripts. From there, the technicians, actors and directors have all day to make the scene come to life.
Piper worked with Collins to create the set for his production of “Five Days in Hell.”
“He gave me a concept and I took the furniture we had, and we built the set out of nothing together,” Piper said.
Throughout the day, actors memorized the scripts and planned where the actor, should be on stage. Then at 9 a.m., the technicians worked with the director on lighting, costumes, props and sound. At 7 p.m., the actors come together and showcase their scenes for friends and family.
“It gives a chance to kids who want to become playwrights,” sophomore and actress Ava Applegate said. “It gives [actors] a chance to act if they haven’t had any that year. It gives [technicians] another chance to lead tech. It just gives kids more opportunities.”

Last year, Theatre did a smaller version of the PlayFest. The concept was new, which motivated students to sign up.
“We had never done it, so it was up to the students to pioneer the way, which was a really interesting opportunity for us,” Collins said.
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Throughout the day, the dynamic of every group became obvious. Some groups worked better with constant repetition and mentally blocking their movements. Others prefered to be by themselves and silently memorize lines.
The different personalities of the students as a whole came through as they all got to know one another.
“You walk into one place and they are bouncing some really fun ideas off of each other, laughing and joking around,” Tooch said. “You walk into another room and there’s very focused individual work happening. It really encourages collaboration that I love to watch.”
During the middle of the day, the students energy level increased. Writers, actors, technicians and directors worked to perfect staging and memorization. They took turns rehearsing the technical aspect of the scenes in the black box theatre.
“I think they like it because it’s 24 hours of intensity and then it’s over,” Tooch said. “It is this little magic journey that is never experienced again.”
Tooch feels it allows the students to have freedom of expression.
“I love the opportunities to create something and have people feel a certain way about it,” Piper said. “Taking people’s visions and putting them together into a cohesive way that makes the audience feel something is incredible.”
As a director for one of the shows, “Five Days in Hell”, Collins enjoyed the opportunity to bring a writer’s thoughts to life. This was Collins’ second year participating in 24-Hour PlayFest as a director.
“You get to be much more creative [as a director] than you are as an actor,” Collins said. “You get to be creative in an acting aspect, technical aspect and a staging aspect. [It’s] really interesting to see your vision come to life rather than being a part of somebody else’s vision.”

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It was time to perform. Bright lights were aimed at the actors whose hearts were beating out of their chests. A calm sense of fear and calmness washed over the students as the show began.
Each performance came a long way from the beginning of the day.
“It was something exciting for all of us— the mere thought of doing something in 24 hours,” Piper said. “It’s like a Saturday rehearsal, but you get to show off what you did at the end, and it’s just super fun.”