I have participated in many kinds of theatre throughout my life. Starting with a member of the royal court in Into the Woods, Jr. in fourth grade, I have since been involved in over 30 productions in a variety of ways. These productions range from musicals, Shakespeare, Commedia, Absurdism, and Greek theatre. One thing I hadn’t done until coming to college: 24-hour theatre. Well, technically 23:59:29 (The 24 Hour Show is copyrighted).
On Saturday, February 23, 2019, as a part of Fringe Fest Erie, about twelve students wrote, produced, designed, staged, directed, and performed a completely new and unique production in a little under 24 hours. These students were members of or associated with Alpha Psi Omega, APO, Gannon University’s Honors Theatre Fraternity. The organization decided to tackle this endeavor after putting on a similar show in last year’s Fringe Fest. However, this show was unlike anything any of us had ever been a part of.
We started the process at 8 pm on Friday night. First, we unboxed a hatbox of random items, including a small rubber chicken, archetype flashcards, pliers, and a small bottle of baby aspirin among other odd things, for inspiration. Then we split into small groups to come up with ideas for our piece. After we decided on an idea, we spent the entire night up until noon on Saturday writing the script. Most of slept for less than four hours that night and there were moments of writer’s block, but overall, I was surprised at how well the group got along and how we all contributed our ideas freely.
Next, the five actors rehearsed blocking and worked on learning their lines. As one of the actors, learning my lines was one of the most difficult parts for me. I was so sleep deprived that it was very hard to retain my lines (and there were a lot of them). The bright side was that each actor helped with writing their own parts, so we all had a general idea of what our lines said. We also collaborated really well and tried to practice together to help each other. At the same time, the technical members were arranging the set, designing lighting and sound, and gathering props. We had a small break to eat, get costumes and makeup done, and then it was already showtime.
The show was conceived around the concept of light and dark. The stage was split between a light side and a dark side. The characters also had light and dark sides, just as every archetype throughout theatre has a light and dark side. Inspired by this, our show told the story of a family going through the divorce of the parents. It was deep and relatable to many families yet had humorous elements as well. The performance itself went extremely well, with no obvious mistakes and a smooth flow. The show was about 30 minutes long and had a good turnout of audience members.
In conclusion, I am very grateful to have had this 24-hour theatre experience. At times it was difficult and tiring (as I expected it would be), but these times paled in comparison to the laughs and creativity that flowed from all of the participants. Even though the show turned out to be a bit dark and realistic, it was a truly fun and rewarding experience. It amazes me what a small group of dedicated people can accomplish in just one day. I am definitely looking forward to next year’s 23:59:59 show!