Inaugural play festival excites theater enthusiasts

Courtesy of Olivia Higgins
The Red Masquers’ next show is Macbeth. It runs from Feb. 15 to Feb. 25.

By Carolyn Palombo | Staff Writer

01/18/2018

The Red Masquers took on the 24-hour play festival on Jan. 13 and 14, and I was lucky enough to be a playwright for the event.

The festival began on Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and continued until Jan. 14th at 8 p.m., when the shows were performed.

On Saturday evening, everyone involved in the festival, except the tech crew, arrived in the Genesius Theater ecstatic and excited to begin. At about 8 p.m., auditions began. The directors, writers and the leaders of the festival sat in the Genesius Theater while actors came in and auditioned. The monologues were glorious, most of them satirically hilarious and all of them well performed. Each director and writer took notes, myself included, on which actors were our favorite and what the actors were like. We then organized an idea of who we hoped we could cast in our own plays and the minute the last actor left, we began planning our cast.

Each cast was chosen by the playwrights. However, if playwrights chose to work with their directors, they were free to do so. Each playwright received two prompts that had to be included in their plays: one prompt was a fruit and the other was a set of coordinates. My assigned item were grapes, and my assigned coordinates corresponded to Bermuda. After brainstorming a bit, each playwright and director met up with their cast. We chatted for a little about ideas, and then all the playwrights rushed off to begin writing.

We wrote from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. Three out of the four of us stayed at the Genesius Theater all night to write, and it was quite a draining time. If we weren’t writing, we were usually laughing at nothing out of sleep deprivation. We occasionally snacked, and I myself had at least three drinks that were full of caffeine. Twice throughout the night, a playwright supervisor checked in on us, first, to make sure we were going to be able to finish a 15-minute play and second, to make sure what we were writing made sense.

At 7 a.m., our finished drafts were due, and we were welcome to a much appreciated breakfast. Then, we waited until 8 a.m. for the rest of the cast and directors to come back to the theater so we could discuss our scripts.

Around 9 a.m., each cast separated off to read through the script for the first time together. After that, playwrights were free to leave if they wanted to rest, but I stayed with my cast for all of rehearsal until the show was performed.

All of Sunday was practice. My director continued to go over certain scenes with the cast so they could better understand their characters. At noon, the cast went into the theater, and each play took turns blocking, using props and figuring out technical aspects. Everyone in my cast and the director then went down to the dressing rooms and picked out costumes.

At 5:45 p.m., my cast, director and I went to the theater to practice with the full lights and technical side of the play. Each group went after us and then after all four casts finished, the playwrights, directors and any actors not performing sat in the audience and watched every other performance have their final dress rehearsal.

My play was first and consisted of outrageous characters, including a pirate, a princess, a fighter and a man, all who deeply touched one another’s lives. The next show had a funny relationship between two sisters that ended with a sweet love story with the cute next-door neighbor. The third work contained a comedic breakdown in which a woman tries to rob a grocery store with a bottle of lotion and ended with the sentimental meaning of a mother’s love. The last play consisted of a bold Russian woman and her dance studio, and a girl with a dream that relied on teaching possibly the worst dancer ever how to dance.

The performances took place for the audience at 8 p.m. and were complete successes. The festival itself was an unbelievably fun time — even though after staying up for 30 hours straight I don’t exactly recall much. The theater arts is hard enough to conquer normally, let alone doing it all in 24 hours. Personally, I can’t wait to do it again next year.

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