Students to create, cast, perform five original plays in single day

By Allie Matherne

Would Romeo and Juliet have died if Shakespeare only had nine hours to write the play? Maybe he would have fallen asleep writing and left them a trivial entangled love story.

Innovation and grueling time crunches meet in Baylor Theatre’s newest endeavor: the 24-Hour Play Festival. And no, this doesn’t mean attendees will be sitting in the cloth seats of Jones Theatre for 24 hours.

From concept to full realization, playwrights, directors and actors will attempt to create five plays in just 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets, available at the door, will be $5 to see all five plays, and the proceeds will go toward theater scholarship funds.

This student-run event will challenge five playwrights to write a play in nine hours, collaborate with a randomly selected student director and fully flesh out a play with actors in time for audiences to see beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday in Jones Theatre. The plays will run back-to-back.

There will be five playwrights, five directors and a number of actors to ensure that the playwrights and directors have complete artistic freedom, said Houston senior and festival coordinator Bethany Roberts.

“We want to keep it super open-ended for playwrights,” Roberts said.

The accelerated timeline will give playwrights an opportunity to trust each other and their own instincts, said Brenham senior Zachary Jenkins, who is also a festival coordinator.

“From what writing I have done, I think this is going to help playwrights streamline the flow of ideas — when you’re under pressure to write something that fast, it’ll help them learn something about how they develop their ideas,” Jenkins said.

Roberts said she agreed.

“You don’t have time to think about it being good. People hold back because they’re afraid failure, but this is going to force it out,” Roberts said. “You trust your instincts more than you would if you didn’t have this time crunch.”

Abilene senior Seth Monhollon said the concept is completely new to Baylor Theatre and will challenge the department in a new way. Monhollon will be writing one of the plays.

“There’s no way to prepare,” Monhollon said. “It’ll be fun, though — to see a play go from concept to full-fledged performance in 24 hours.”

The students are excited about collaborating and creating something completely on their own, Jenkins said.

“I think it’s invigorating for people to do something that the faculty isn’t involved in,” Jenkins said. “Not everyone can be in a main-stage theater production at once and people are hungry — in the real world, if it’s not happening for you, you have to produce your own stuff, so this will be a cool way for people to collaborate together on that.”

This is a prime opportunity for Baylor Theatre students to incorporate the skills they have gained through the department, Roberts said.

“To be at Baylor it’s been cool to not just focus on one aspect of theater,” Roberts said. “We are all so multitalented. We have people that can write and people that can act. The costume people, the light people — everyone is so excited and willing to be there and put in the time and effort. This is what we were made for.”