A Play for a day at UW-Rock County

Feb. 20, 2014

By Nat Edson

 

A writer drafts the play, actors are hired, the director gets everything organized, and then, after a lot of practice, the show is put on. This time there’s only one difference: it all happens in 24 hours.

UW-Rock County in Janesville is set to put on its second annual 24-hour theater performance. Several short productions will journey from conception to performance in just one day’s time. It’s an experience program director Zac Curtis said is unique.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect,” Curtis said. “That extra level of energy is very different than traditional theatre experiences.

The project starts at 7 on a Friday night, when the directors are given the rundown of the challenges they’ll have to face in the next day. An hour later, the actors begin auditioning, giving one-minute performances ranging from jokes to monologues. At 9 p.m., the plays are cast in a draft style, and then people head home.

The groups meet again the following morning at 6 to begin rehearsing, and by 8 Saturday night the entire show is ready. The entire process, is frantic and quick, but went fantastically last year, Curtis said.

The inspiration for this program, and a similar one he did in Idaho a few years ago, came to Curtis from a Chicago group called Too Much Light Makes the TV Go Blind. The group of 20 years comes in and makes 30 two-minute plays they perform in an hour.

“I really like their philosophy about what theatre can be,” Curtis said. “That it can be something spontaneous. That’s really what we’re trying to go for with the 24-hour project.”

This year, instead of just doing short plays, UW-Rock is adding two more sections now: art and music, Curtis said. These new categories will have to deal with a surprise theme just like the short plays, and audition in much the same way.

The music category will be a part of the show Saturday night, while the art will be displayed in a gallery beforehand and auctioned off. The gallery will begin at 7 p.m. and will include free food and music.

Curtis said he will be acting strictly in an assistant director capacity this year, available to help those who should need it. He’s no stranger to the stage, however. After completing graduate school in Idaho, he taught high school in Colorado for five years before taking his current position at UW-Rock County in Janesville.

This will be the fourth year that he’s done the 24-hour project, and while he isn’t acting or directing this time, he has before.

“It’s hectic,” Curtis said. “As a director it’s not too bad, but as an actor it’s hard.”

The project begins on Friday, Feb.21, at 8 p.m. The 24-hour cycle will conclude with an art gallery at 7 p.m. the following day, leading into the actual performance at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show will be $5.

It is not too late to participate in the 24-hour experience UW-Rock is still looking for more actors, singers and artists. Those who are interested can contact Curtis at  [email protected]

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