Making theater, in 24 hours

The Yale Drama Coalition held a 24-hour theater festival that culminated in the performances of three plays on Saturday night.
The Yale Drama Coalition held a 24-hour theater festival that culminated in the performances of three plays on Saturday night. Photo by Emilie Foyer.

Even before the first mainstage show of the new academic year goes up on Yale Repertory Theatre stage on Sept. 27, members of the theater community have already managed to create, produce and perform three shows — in just 24 hours.

From 8 p.m. on Friday to 8 p.m. Saturday, the Yale Drama Coalition held a 24-hour theater festival, a project that culminated in the performances of three short plays on Saturday night. In its second year, the 24-hour undertaking is intended to incorporate freshmen into theater at Yale and to create a “place of experimentation” in which refinement is not an option, said Irene Casey ’14, the head of the YDC.

The theme given to the festival, “24 Hours And Change,” relates to the new school year, the change in season and the upcoming presidential race, Casey said, adding that the YDC chose the theme for its potential to be interpreted in a variety of ways. “Change,” she said, reflected that creative license.

The 14 students participating were broken up into three groups, each comprising a writer, a director and two or three actors. The three writers were given the line “Change, please,” and a prop to incorporate into a 15- to 30-minute play. They had 12 hours to write. The writers passed their finished scripts off to the directors no later than 8 a.m. Saturday morning, giving the teams 12 hours to rehearse.

“[The project] can be very intense, but on the other hand it’s very low-pressure in some ways because everyone knows you have had a limited amount of time,” Casey said.

Casey noted that of the 14 participants, about half were freshmen, who are one of the event’s main targets.

“It’s a great way for freshmen to be able to meet other people in the theater community and sort of bond as a team,” said Ali Viterbi ’14, one of the YDC board’s event coordinators.

The three plays inlcuded two love stories and one work that functions as a missing scene from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

Ilana Strauss ’14 said she spent about four and a half hours writing “Hamlet’s Missing Scene,” which was directed by Irene Casey. Strauss crafted the play as a comedic piece, infusing the Bard’s landscape with a variety of historical references along with an Irish pirate and a leprechaun. Strauss even rewrote the opening lines of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, “To be, or not to be,” as “To pee, or not to pee,” a question the Danish prince asks himself as he weighs the pros and cons of such an act.

“It was an opportunity to not have to worry about doing all the editing you’re supposed to do,” Strauss said.

The actors and director of Strauss’ play began blocking the show at 2 p.m., 18 hours into the project. With two hours until showtime, they reconvened in the Davenport-Pierson Theater to begin final rehearsals. The question of going off book or not was still up in the air at 6 p.m.

The theater was packed when the shows opened at 8 p.m., kicking off with Thomas Yabroff’s ’16 “Post,” which centers on the letters a couple exchanges with one another.

The final play, “No More Than a Boy” by Julian Wise ’14 and directed by Malina Buturovik ’16, combined a series of monologues and short scenes. A more serious piece that involved more than twice as many characters as there were actors, “No More Than a Boy” tested the audience’s ability to remember which character was which.

Actress Jen Kramer ’14 said the project was a great way to meet other people.

Annemarie McDaniel ’16, who came to see the shows on Saturday night, said she thought the performances were impressive for the amount of time that was given to writing and rehearsing.

The YDC plans to host another 24-hour theater festival next semester.

Comments