By Kallan Dana
Even after the Mainstage production closes and House Party wraps up, there’s still one event that fills the JKB with eager audience members and closes out the semester. Now in its sixth year, the 24-Hour Play festival is a student-driven tradition that gives the entire community a chance to celebrate the end of classes, the many performances that have taken place in the JKB across the entire academic year, and the spirit of making exciting, fast-paced, surprising, living theater within just a day’s timespan.
This year’s festival was produced by senior theater majors Miranda Coble ’19, Zoe Lesser ’19, and Philip Merrick ’19. Each of the three have prior experience working in multiple capacities at the JKB: all as actors and directors, and then also stage managers, lighting designers, playwrights, and more. Together, they were responsible for recruiting playwrights, directors, and actors, as well as as a full stage management, tech, and design team for the event. While the plays are all created in a 24-hour time period, the producers began their work long before, spending the entire semester planning out the date and logistics of running and managing a full festival. All day the three could be seen bustling around the JKB, organizing the 8am auditions for all the plays, making sure every group was in their correct rehearsal space, printing out programs and hanging posters, and then finally speaking in front of the crowd of audience members to welcome them to the show. Miranda Coble wore multiple hats throughout the day, serving both as producer and stage manager.
The event began on the evening of May 1st, the day after the last day of classes. That night, the playwrights reported for duty and began their writing, making something from nothing. Most playwrights worked individually, though Hannah Gross ’21 and Hanna Yurfest ’21 teamed up and co-wrote, as did Max Clifford ’21 and Eliza Martin ’21. The producers stayed on-call throughout the evening, even making a Taco Bell run for the writers around midnight. By 7am, all scripts were complete and turned in, and the producers introduced the sleep-deprived writers to the directors so that the writers could pitch their plays and the directors could decide who gets which show. This part of the process, too, is extremely quick. Within an hour, all the plays are pitched and assigned to directors, so that when the actors arrive at 8am, auditions can begin immediately.
For auditions, actors are given one-minute slots, during which they can do anything they want. Actors typically take this as an invitation to try something new, to make the writers and directors laugh, to do something absurd on the mainstage theater. This year, one actor brushed her teeth onstage, another two went together as a duo, another did a dramatic reading of the lyrics to a Nicki Minaj song. All actors were guaranteed a spot in one of the seven plays just by having signed on to do the project. The auditions end up being a freeing opportunity. Nothing can be too weird or unusual in this audition room.
The plays are cast just as quickly as the auditions occur, and then the various creative teams are let loose throughout campus to make their show, stopping only for lunch and dinner breaks before they come back for their ten-minute tech slot in the evening. Within those several hours, anything is possible and every play is a mystery, especially to the playwrights, who tend to go to sleep once their work is out of their hands.
When all the creative teams returned to the JKB in the evening, two hours before the festival is set to begin, the entire building was buzzing with energy, enthusiasm, and nervousness. Actors paced around the lobby, muttering their barely-memorized lines underneath their breath to try to do their best to make the words stick. Costume designer Jo DuBois ’19 assembled last-minute wardrobes for all the casts, which actors changed into as they waited to go in for their tech slot.
This year’s festival featured seven plays, the first being the satirical dystopian Content Warning: Endgame Spoilers, by Taylor Goodwin ’20 and directed by Grant Landau-Williams ’19, in which the release of the Marvel film results in a real-life Apocalypse. After that came junior Carrie Everett Baker’s Boo (directed by Harrison Winrow ’22), a two-hander in which both actors played a sensitive two-headed dragon. Next up was Keanu Reeves’ A Christmas Carol. Written by Michael McDonald ’19 and directed by Fabian Rodriguez ’22, the play was a dry, highly-meta performance in which Tatsuya Rivera ’22 impersonated the infamous actor and Geri Cynamon ’22 played every other character in A Christmas Carol. Senior Nina Slowinski’s absurd and hilarious Slippery Scoopty, directed by Graham Cook ’19, came after, and featured a Taco Bell ad and a screaming, slip-n-slide wearing Coco McNeil ’21. After that came Skate (Into the Afterlife), the co-written piece by Max Clifford ’21 and Eliza Martin ’21 (directed by Cameron Jabs ’21), a heartwarming play in which two skater bros discover that their skatepark friend is actually a ghost. This was followed by I Betcha Would’ve Done the Same (directed by Lily Kops ’22 and co-written by Hannah Gross ’21 and Hanna Yurfest ’21), a provocative play about murderous, infanticide-committing women throughout history that used Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango” for its riotous climax.
The entire festival concluded with God Be With You, Play Ball! an epic, cinematic sports-narrative play by Isabel Sill ’20 and directed by Sarah Marlin ’20, imagining Jesus Christ as a teen baseball player looking for love and success.
The 24-Hour Play festival, though still a new tradition, embodies the qualities of Skidmore Theater that make the department and the community unique. It is a chance for students to try out something completely different from what they normally do and to experiment in making work when every single hour, minute, second is hyper-important. There’s nothing quite like being in the theater for the day-long period when truly anything is possible, and the community and audience will support whatever that anything turns out to be.
Producers: Miranda Coble ’19, Zoe Lesser ’19, and Philip Merrick ’19
Stage Manager: Miranda Coble ’19
Assistant Stage Manager: Emily Hardy ’21
Lighting: Lea Tanenbaum ’19, Taylor Jaskula ’21
Sound: August Sylvester ’20
Costumes: Jo DuBois ’19
Props and Photography: Wynn Lee ’21
Playwrights: Carrie Everett Baker ’20, Max Clifford ’21, Taylor Goodwin ’20, Hannah Gross ’21, Eliza Martin ’21, Michael McDonald ’19, Isabel Sill ’20 Nina Slowinski ’19, Hanna Yurfest ’21
Directors: Graham Cook ’19, Cameron Jabs ’21, Lily Kops ’22, Grant Landau-Williams ’19, Sarah Marlin ’20 Fabian Rodriguez ’22, Harrison Winrow ’22,
Actors: Patrick Carter ’22, Matt Clyne ’20, Sophia Bella Cucci ’20, Geri Cynamon ’22, Kallan Dana ’19, Shelby Fairchild ’21, Jonah Harrison ’22, Nick Leonard ’20, Finley Martin ’19, Coco McNeil ’21, Joe Newman-Getzler ’21, Hanna Nyberg ’22, Caolin O’Connor ’20, Georgia Ossorguine ’22, Grace Palmer ’22, Tatsuya Rivera ’22, Becca Schilsky ’20, Amelia Schuster ’21, Gemma Siegler ’22, Theo Strassell ’22, Bianca Thompson ’19, Emily Zeller ’22
Kallan Dana is a senior Theater and English double major and Co-Editor of the Skidmore Theater Living Newsletter