By Nadia Paschal
Four plays were mainly written and produced by students from scratch in 24 hours this past weekend by the Theatre Department called a 24-Hour-Play festival. Five groups of students got the chance to showcase their skills through writing and performing in 10-minute sketches.
The four plays were “Night Shift,” “Things That Go Ding In The Night,” “Phones” and “Two Poets,” each serving their own purpose with different themes, tones and morals.
Participants each raffled a team, which included two actors, a writer and a director.
The writers were given a prompt at 6 p.m. the day before. They had to work a certain line or phrase into the script, and worked tirelessly throughout the night to see it through.
Once finished, they sent it to the actors so that they could start rehearsing. Ngozi Permaul, a sophomore, starred in the play “Phones.” Its premise was a mother trying to communicate and connect with her son, who is too engrossed in technology.
Although they had only 24 hours, Permaul shared that he was still able to get a basic understanding of his character through his own life experience and observing those around him.
“It was something to better understand how I communicate and how I relay ideas,” Permaul said.
Aside from “Phones,” three other plays were performed. The first was “Night Shift” which is about Alice, a cynical cafe employee, and Bob, an optimistic security guard. The two have a chance encounter at the cafe where Alice works and strike a conversation about their outlook on life, which ends in an unlikely connection as they discover that they both may have deeper feelings for each other.
“Things That Go Ding In the Night” follows Parker and his discovery of the true cause of all of the holes that have been appearing in his yard. After hearing some noises one night, Parker stumbles upon a creature named Bugbear. Bugbear reveals that he is a gnome trying to bury his treasure. Parker attempts to reason with him and tell him to leave, but ultimately fails to do so.
The final play, “The Poet,” features a poet writing to someone she once shared a connection with. A narrator, who is also a writer, breaks the fourth wall by directly speaking to the audience. The narrator sheds light on the poet’s life and the person to whom the letters are written.
The audience got to see the performers in action, but they were not the only ones hard at work. The directors, writers and technical crew played a key role in the success of the festival as well. Senior Alyssa Vasquez served as a director for one of the plays. She was tasked with blocking out the scenes and ensuring all aspects ran smoothly.
“My job was to collaborate with the writer I was paired with to bring the play they wrote to life,” Vasquez said.
Nicholas Alkobi, the writer paired with Vasquez, shared that he stepped outside of his comfort zone. Usually writing screenplays and short stories, Alkobi was still able to carry over the knowledge that he already had.
“The only difference is just how the audience sees it,” Alkobi said. “This is all one take on a stage, so it definitely sets a different element in me, and what I can and can’t do.”
Despite having such a short window of time, the cast and crew managed to pull it off successfully and collaboration amongst team members seemed to come easily.
“[Vasquez] had a good understanding of what I was providing. She definitely gave some direction that I didn’t think about either,” Alkobi said.
Vasquez agreed, saying that “for the stuff that we had to use, we did what we could with what we had.”
Unfortunately, production hit a few snags at one point, when one of the writers had to drop out unexpectedly. Thinking fast and creatively, those involved turned to Chat GPT to overcome this obstacle. Despite not working with the program directly, Alkobi noted that although it worked, it “was kind of funny, I’m not going to lie. Which kind of scares me too.”
It was clear that the students involved put their all into it, and despite some open seats in the audience, those who did come showed a clear display of enthusiasm. Those who participated this year hope that over time and through more events held, it will gain more traction and attract a larger audience as they would like to be involved again.