Theater fraternity produces five shows in 24 hours

Notes are taken on a script.
Photo by Mitchell Kraus

MITCHELL KRAUS Editor-in-Chief

At 7 p.m. Friday, a group of students gathered their laptops, blankets, pillows and large amounts of coffee and gathered to write five short plays overnight. 

A large coffee dispenser sits in a classroom at the J. Scheidegger Center around 7 a.m. Saturday, the halfway point of the event.
Photo by Mitchell Kraus

They came together as part of Alpha Psi Omega’s 24-hour play festival, an annual event where theater students challenge themselves to write, design and rehearse original plays within one day. The performances, open to the public, begin 24 hours after the writers are permitted to begin.

Four positions are available to participants: writer, director, crew or actor. Some of the writers choose to stay on as actors or directors, meaning they must survive on just a few hours of sleep. Gallons of coffee are brought in to keep them going.

Freshmen Lauren Paulin (left) and Camryn Ruhl settle in to brainstorm their play on Friday evening.
Photo by Mitchell Kraus

At the kickoff of the night, APO President Jake Blonstein announced this year’s theme: “Obsession.” Then he delved into a couple of ground rules.

“Let’s keep it under 10 minutes” Blonstein said. “And keep it to one non-sexual ‘F’ word. Keep it PG-13.”

Writer Wil Spaeth frowned at his laptop at the back of the room. 

“I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do; not one,” Spaeth said.

In the end, all five plays were complete by the time the directors came around at 6:30 the next morning. The writers who were staying on to act or direct lay around the J. Schidegger Center, catching a few hours of sleep before they had to begin again. 

After hours of rehearsal, tech rehearsals began in the middle of the afternoon, where the lighting and stage layout were finalized. A very quick dinner break followed before the final dress run-though happened just minutes before doors opened to the audience.

To keep things moving along, sets and props were kept to a minimum. Most of the plays used only a few pieces of furniture and props recycled from past performances at the theater. 

As the time clock ran out, everyone got excited.

“It’s going to be lit,” stage manager Grace Tritsch said.

In the final play of the night, Lauren Paulin (striped shirt) plays a college student who comes home to discover that her parents (Hunter Frederick, left, and Olivia Long) have joined a cult lead by TV painter Rob (Matthew Hansen).
Photo by Mitchell Kraus

“It’s going to be lit.” said stage manager Grace Tritsch.

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