Earlier this week, students from the Yale School of Drama came together to put on a production — in 24 hours. Surprisingly, this was neither a nightmare nor some form of bizarre punishment, but the latest offering from the Yale Cabaret.
Last night was the first performance of the Cabaret’s second annual “24-Hour Theatre” festival. The show consists of six 10-minute plays that were written and rehearsed with only 24 hours of preparation.
Jami O’Brien DRA ’04, this year’s event curator, said she “locked” six playwrights from the Yale School of Drama into the computer lab and gave them each 12 hours to come up with a play. Each student had to write a 10-minute script with the common setting of a subway car. Directors and actors came in the next morning and each play got only two hours of rehearsal — making 24 total hours of preparation.
“Its kind of like a roller coaster, or like walking a tightrope without much experience,” said Brendan Hughes DRA ’04, artistic director of the Yale Cabaret. “The feel is makeshift in a really good way.”
Hughes himself is acting in three of the plays, and participated in last year’s production.
The writers pick five elements that are required to appear in each of the plays. This year’s required references are a 20-year-old newspaper, the state of Texas, a strange use of time, and the phrases “you can’t touch this” and “are we too loud.”
Audience members are encouraged to applaud when they hear each of the elements mentioned at the performance.
The idea for last year’s “24-Hour Theatre” came from Jason Lindner DRA ’02. Lindner based his idea on “The 24-Hour Plays,” a series of productions presented by Tina Fallon, a freelance production manager. Since 1995 Fallon has done productions in a variety of locations including New York and Lindner’s hometown of Chicago.
Lindner decided to use the idea at the Yale Cabaret, but in a modified form.
The “24-Hour Plays” have slightly stricter rules than the Cabaret’s version. All preparations are made in a single 24-hour block of time with writers, actors and directors all meeting for the first time the night before the performance.
The Cabaret follows the same basic principles but is stretched out over the course of a week. O’Brien said it would have been too difficult to get everyone together at the same time, so rehearsals were broken up.
After last year’s successful trial run and Lindner’s graduation, O’Brien said she decided to do it again this year because she had “so much fun” writing one of the plays last year.
The event, Hughes said, gives younger members of the Drama School a chance to show off their skills.
“It’s really a coming-out experience for the first-year students,” he said. “They’re super-talented and committed.”
Except for two third-year students, the playwrights are all in their first year at the school.
Performances for “24-Hour Theatre” will run from Dec. 5 to Dec. 7.