SAXTONS RIVER—Vermont Academy will hold its seventh annual 24-Hour Play Festival on Sunday, Jan. 12. This year, the independent school is opening up casting to include middle- and high-school students from other schools.
The 24 Hour Plays started in New York in 1995 as a way to bring together a community of creative artists in a time-limited experiment. Writers, directors, technicians, and actors gathered together to create and perform plays from scratch within 24 hours, start-to-finish.
While the project was intended as a one-time-only event, 24-Hour Play Festivals have now been staged around the world.
Vermont Academy’s 24-hour clock begins on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m., when writers will gather in the Nita Choukas Theater to receive their assignments, themes, and props.
Dan Burmester, head of theater arts, and Joanne Fuller, English department chair and director of the Writing Center, oversee the event.
At 8 p.m., the writers head to the Great Room in Fuller Hall to create scripts. Fuller helps the writers fill plot holes and inconsistencies and tells them when the audience needs more information to understand what is happening.
As Fuller explained in a news release, “Last year, we had five plays completed and printed by 3:30 in the morning. Our writers were focused, smart, funny, and fantastic collaborators. You’d think they would want to go to sleep after that, but no! They stayed up all night watching TV and enjoying each other’s company!”
At 6 a.m. on Jan. 12, the writers and directors will meet to discuss the scripts. At 9 a.m., the actors will arrive for their assignments and to begin memorizing their lines — this is the time students should arrive at Horowitz Performing Arts Hall.
Over the next 10 hours, the directors, actors, stage managers, and technicians will work to bring the plays to life.
The 24-Hour Play Festival has become a celebrated tradition at Vermont Academy.
As Burmester explains, “This event brings together all corners of our campus. We have our theater students joined on stage by athletes, visual artists, academic-focused students, faculty, and staff. This year, we’re excited to extend an invitation to surrounding communities to celebrate the love of theater together.”
At 7 p.m., the plays will be performed in Nita Choukas Theater. The performances are free and open to the public. Parents of participating students are welcome to return to the campus at 5 p.m., for a tour, which will start at the Horowitz Performing Arts Hall. The tour will be followed by dinner before the performance.