24 Hour Theater Festival again a fast-moving success

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

T minus 0, Friday, September 29: Swarthmore actors, directors, writers, and techies gathered together in Parrish parlors to discuss a mission holding the potential for either sheer genius or complete, unbridled chaos. The task: write, put together, and perform a play in 24 hours. This is the third time Swat has undertaken such a feat, and many familiar faces were present at the initial meeting along with an equal number of 24 Hour Theater Fest amateurs. Katie Bates returned for her second experience with the project, the first being in her freshman year as a star in the drama 5’4”, which, says Bates, “was a really amazing play, especially for one written in ten hours.” As for the experience to come, Bates reported, “I don’t know what to expect.” This year’s festival was run by Back Stage Extraordinaire Kim Comer and Director Phil Katz.

T minus 1 hour to T minus 9 – Saturday, September 30: The Festival Playwrights began an excruciating night of creation and Red Bull, as they struggled to stay awake long enough to finish one act plays in time to present them to the directors within the rapidly approaching morning hours. They toiled, and they triumphed.

The result was three finished project in varying states of comprehensibility. The first was a comedy called “Three People and a Lemonade Stand,” written by Dan Hodson and Joanna Wright. The play was about three disgruntled corporate executives trying to run a neighborhood lemonade stand. As their customers become increasing the bizarre and their profits increasingly feeble, the three begin to lose grasp on their sanities as hilarity ensues.

The second was written by Farrah Hussain and titled, “Locks and Keys.” A flustered young woman, Stephanie, confides in her friend Sierra her insecurities around her engagement – the lucky man refuses to kiss her. Unbeknownst to Stephanie, Sierra has a hidden agenda. Through funny plot twists and witty innuendo, Stephanie finds herself engaged to a waiter and headed off to Vegas, and the unknowing subject of a clever con.

The third was a collective collaboration called “A Really Terrible Idea and its Repercussions, or What not to do to your roommate.” Cecelia, sweet, innocent freshman finds herself paired with a roommate, Jessie, from the ninth circle of hell. As Jessie’s behavior gets more and more terrifying – her actions ranging from buying a boa constrictor to setting poor Cecelia up with a Spec for Screw – Cecelia begins to snap. The play ends with Cecelia hilariously – and of course, tragically – strangling Jessie with a feather boa.

T minus 24 hours, Saturday, September 30: After rehearsing all day and a panicked scramble to place all of the props and costumes, the actors, directors, and techies were ready. “Three People and a Lemonade Stand” starred James Robinson, Chris Green, and Allison McCarthy as all of the characters, and was first to be presented. Second was “Locks and Keys,” starring Judy Browngoehl as Stephanie, Jackie Avitabile as Sierra, and Alex Ho as The Waiter. Last was the collective collaboration “What Not To Do To Your Roommate,” starring Katie Bates as the Narrator, Cecelia Osowski as Cecelia, and Jessie Bear as Jessie. All plays went as smoothly as is possible for a 24 hour project, and everyone had an immensely good time.

Allison McCarthy was assigned to this story and, in the process of reporting on it, was invited to participate in one of the performances.

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