24-Hour Theatre presents art that’s all in the timing

Niels Strandskov

Every day, around the world, artists are struggling to make art.

They struggle to find money, to overcome political and social obstacles, to get their work into a public venue, and to transcend their own limitations. Luckily for most of them, they usually don’t have to struggle with a rapidly ticking clock.

On Friday and Saturday however, five groups of University theater students will have to do just that as part of the 24-Hour Theatre project under the auspices of the Xperimental Theatre.

As co-producer and theatre arts graduate student Jessie Glover explained in an interview with A&E, the concept of confining the production of a play into a single day condenses art to its essentials. Each group of participants will start with a

single cue – an object perhaps, or a piece of music – and work for a day on transforming that scrap of inspiration into a short play of around 15 minutes, to be presented Saturday night.

On Friday night, five teams of students will receive their respective prompts and set to work on their plays. Glover anticipates a total of 30 to 50 participants, including playwrights, actors and crew members. As their work progresses, photos will be posted to the project’s Web site, giving potential audience members a chance to see the process unfold.

“For some audience members, it’s the closest they can get to the theatrical process” said Glover. She also thinks that even more experienced theater-goers will be fascinated.

Glover and her co-producers Cody Stewart, Katie Hartman and Christina Akers are excited to bring this concept to the University. The goal, Glover said, is to “create something that will surprise the audience.

“I’ve seen some of the most brave performances ever,” Glover explained, of her previous experiments with the 24-Hour Theatre format at community theaters and her former college.

Glover sees the idea as something new for students as well as audiences. Describing it as an “opportunity to start the semester off with a bang,” she thinks it will allow new theater students to understand why actors, directors and playwrights have to create.

Although the “teams” work separately, Glover insists that their real competition is with the clock, not with one another. She added that the thrill of the time limit makes this “absolutely dangerous” theater for both performers and audiences.

With 24-Hour Theatre, the Xperimental Theatre truly lives up to its name and mission. Artists have the opportunity to experiment, and audiences have access to the details of that experimentation in a way that is not usually possible. This “exhausting, exciting experience” as Glover alliteratively described it, might or might not exceed expectations, but there is no doubt that it will energize the campus theater community for the rest of the season.