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  • 1.  24-Hour Play Festival curriculum?

    Posted 09-24-2018 10:38
    We're looking to try a 24-Hour Play Festival this year, and I have some information that was in an article in Teaching Theatre.  However, I'm wondering if anyone out there has more details about timing, logistics, themes.

    Ms. Valerie O'Riordan | Acting & Frosh Skills Teacher, Drama Club Moderator
    House Provincial
    , ESU Shakespeare Coordinator-SF Branch

    Archbishop Riordan High School
    175 Phelan Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112

    Questions regarding our fall play, The 39 Steps?
    Please contact Greg Callaghan @   


  • 2.  RE: 24-Hour Play Festival curriculum?

    Posted 09-24-2018 10:58
    Just this weekend, at the North Carolina Theatre Arts Educators Fall Sharing Conference I attended a great session on creating a 24hr play festival with Bing and Deb Cox.   Bing ( is a member, so I recommend reaching out to him.

    Elana Kepner
    Theatre Instructor
    The Oakwood School
    Greenville NC

  • 3.  RE: 24-Hour Play Festival curriculum?

    Posted 09-25-2018 08:28
    I can help you with this.

    Mark A. Zimmerman,

    Theatre Director
    Akron School for the Arts
    Firestone Community Learning Center
    470 Castle Blvd
    Akron, Ohio 44313

    Troupe 5570

  • 4.  RE: 24-Hour Play Festival curriculum?

    Posted 09-25-2018 08:52
    Here is my format for the one we do annually and invite 8th-12th graders from our area to participate in: DAY OF Play in a Day Rules Instructions and Documents There is probably some stuff in there that isn't helpful to you, but it gives an idea of how we do it and has the rules and instructional materials we give to the students. 

    Feel free to ask specific questions. We have done this for years now and it's one of our favorite events. Testing is so crazy in the late spring that we can no longer do a full show at that time, so this is our big spring event. We do our mainstage shows in the fall and winter.

    Kathleen McNulty Mann

    Program Director
    Arnold High School Theatre
    Thespian Troupe 6371
    Panama City Beach, FL

    District 10 Chair & State Logistics
    Florida State Junior Thespians

    Board Member
    Membership Committee Chair
    Florida Association for Theatre Education

  • 5.  RE: 24-Hour Play Festival curriculum?

    Posted 09-25-2018 09:42

    Hi, Valerie!

    I love 24-hour play festivals and I've been involved in many of them, as a playwright and as an audience member. There is a certain energy and fly-by-the seat-of-your-pants quality that is fun for both participants and audience. Expectations are lower and there is less of a time commitment. That being said, I call the standard schedule - writing all night long - "playwright abuse," because it requires the writer to lose a night's sleep and be less involved during the rehearsal process. I'm going to describe a different formula for you to consider, one that allows for a read through before the actors (and playwrights) go to sleep, which is key to line memorization. The plays are written one evening, in a two-hour period, and performed the next. I have yet to see a 24-hour evening where the plays were better because the writers had all night. The plays are just longer; no one spends their time doing rewrites. In fact, the New Dramatists yearly writers' benefit gives the playwrights twenty-minutes to create a script that will be rehearsed and performed on script an hour later. (And having been the timekeeper I can tell you that those Pulitzer-winning writers are more nervous than your students will be!) So, two things: longer writing time doesn't equal better plays and a read through before bedtime aids in memorization.

    Here's the backstory:
    For a number of years a group of us created The ATrain Plays in New York City. Playwrights would write plays while riding public transportation which were rehearsed and then performed the next evening. 
    went like this:

    • Around 6pm six writers would meet at the 207th St Station. 
    • The producers had headshots & resumes for all the actors involved.
    • Writers choose a number from a sack - two, three, four - which is the number of characters in the play and randomly select that number of headshots (or names) from another sack.
    • Writers get on the train and ride for two hours to the end of the line at Far
      (I can tell you it's the only time we ever want the train to be delayed!)
    • Writers exit the train and are met by the directors.
    • We draw a name from a sack. That's your director.
    • We get back on the train and ride halfway back, to Columbus Circle, talking about the play, making changes, where we meet the writing actors just beyond the turnstile. The producers announce the casts. Everyone is very excited.
    • We photocopy the scripts and head to a rehearsal studio. (Nowadays you could email them to devices!) We in a big circle, casts together, and read the first two and last page of each play so the producers can decide on the order.
    • We break into groups, into separate classrooms or studios and the directors take over. We read through the plays, ask and answer any questions, and figure out if there are any special props or costumes needed. Perhaps we read the play another time or two.
    • Then we all go home and SLEEP. 
    • The next morning we locate props and costumes and meet in our separate groups to rehearse. The lines come a lot easier because of the previous night's readings. The play is blocked and run over and over again. Perhaps the playwright makes small changes, but this rehearsal is really for the actors. It's a great experience for a young playwright, however, to watch their work in process, an experience they don't get if they have been writing or trying to write all night and are at home in bed while the actors are rehearsing.
    • After lunch we tech each play separately while the others are running lines, and then do a dress rehearsal followed by a dinner break.
    • At 7 or 8pm the plays are performed. (okay, perhaps it's a 25-28 hour event!)

    Obviously you don't have to ride a subway to make this work, the plays could be written anywhere, and you could come up with a theme, add an object that must be used, etc. For The ATrain Plays all the plays had to take place on the A train and our characters had to enter at the beginning of the play and exit at the end. There would be no direct address; all the plays were performed on a set that looked like a subway car, so the audience's experience was that they watching people get on and off. A live band set up on a platform behind the set played songs between scenes, SNL style, giving an extra energy.

    I hope this helps and that you'll consider a format that allows for sleep. It makes a huge difference with memorization; otherwise the actors are usually paraphrasing so much that the playwright might as well have simply written a scenario. One of the keys, however, is getting everyone to understand that the morning rehearsal is not about the playwright, although they may attend, it's about the director and actors.

    The ATrain Plays were always a great experience and I love fast-play formats. But I've turned down other opportunities that ask me to start writing at midnight. It's just cruel. Feel free to ask me any questions. And, above all, have a great time! This should be fun! Below is an article about The ATrain Plays. Some of you will note a familiar name, Craig Pospisil, who in addition to being a fine playwright is the director of amateur rights for Dramatists Play Service.

    A Train Plays: From Concept to Stage in 28 Hours remove preview
    A Train Plays: From Concept to Stage in 28 Hours
    The one-day works of art known as "theAtrainplays" are the brain child of Lawrence Feeney, who produces the shows and also performs in them. He talks to NPR about how the concept of producing these fast-shows on the subway came about, and what keeps him and his fellow artists motivated.
    View this on >

    Arlene Hutton
    Playwright: Letters to Sala, I Dream Before I Take the Stand, Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry

    faculty, The Barrow Group, NYC