My theatre students and I are very interested in attempting a 24 Hour Play, but have not even attended one. Is there anyone who has done these, and can give me some good advice and tips? I have no idea how to set this up, organize it, run it, promote it, etc.
Any help is greatly appreciated. Can email me at:
I am also very interested in trying this with my advanced drama, but have not tried it before. If anyone is willing to share how they facilitated such a project I'd love to see it as well.
We host our a 24-hour play festival as our program's fundraiser. I had sent this to a few people, and have decided just to publicly post. Check out how we do it here:
A 24-Hour Play Festival Fundraiser
I'm happy to share our schedules and answer any questions. If anyone would like to pursue a format like this, I can share the graphics from our poster.
------------------------------Jessica HarmsTheatre DirectorActon MA
------------------------------Tisha DonnellyDirector, troupe #5591Vanden High SchoolFairfield, CAOriginal Message:Sent: 08-05-2016 08:56From: Valerie FarschmanSubject: Interested in doing a 24 Hour Play Project, would like some info!
------------------------------Valerie FarschmanDrama DirectorAmherst OH------------------------------
I recommend the 14/48 model. I've participated four times, writing once and acting three times. It's pretty intense -we call it theatre camp for grownups - but also a LOT of fun. The producers have successfully worked the model at the high school level, and audiences really latch onto the energy of the event. If you decide to do it, make sure plans are in place to feed people, as they may not eat otherwise.
This is the best description of the process I found (from the 14/48 Wikepedia page):
"The process has remained largely unchanged since its creation in 1997. The weekend begins on a Thursday evening with a private meeting of the participants. The playwrights, directors, actors, musicians, designers, and producers all write ideas for themes for the following night's plays on pieces of paper. One theme is (literally) pulled out of a hat, and the seven playwrights turn to the task of writing a 10-minute play each on the randomly drawn theme.
Early the following morning, the seven playwrights submit their plays and in randomly assembled teams (again, drawn from a hat) the seven teams have 10 hours to rehearse, score, design, build, and then present those seven plays. The audience for that first evening of plays then submits ideas for themes for the following night's plays, and at the end of the evening one of these themes is drawn from a hat. The seven playwrights again turn to writing, and the process repeats (in new, randomly assembled teams) for a second day."
Not noted above but also of note: the playwrights should know in advance how many actors (mane and female) they are writing for. Good Luck!
John F. Kennedy Catholic High School
140 S. 140th Street, Burien, WA 98168
I do this every year, it is my favorite event of the year because it is just my kids creativity from top to bottom. The way I structure it is as follows:
1) I have sign up sheets for directors, writers, and actors. You need many more actors than the the other two, but ideally you want 5 to 9 or 10 directors and writers, and enough actors that each director and writer would get at least two.
2) We meet on a Friday night at 7PM (all our district events start at 7). The writer's each pull a director's name out of a hat, the director's pull actor's names, and those are the teams. I also give short speeches to them about how to handle disagreements, being respectful of each other, what the jobs are and what they aren't (writers aren't directors, directors aren't writers, actors - as always - just act). I do encourage them to be open to each others ideas, but I make clear what the boundaries are.
3) I give all the groups a sentence that must be used in the play - usually something silly, (one that worked particularly well was "And that's how I learned to dance the Rumba").
4) the groups have some time to discuss and plan then I send them home (my school was NOT into having us stay the night). i encourage the kids to share emails etc. so they can communicate through the night if they need to. The writers are there to do re-writes if necessary - but I sometimes have kids who want to do multiple things, so they can write and act, or write and direct (but they can't direct or act in their own piece).
5) at 9AM the next morning all return to school with finished scripts in hand. They have the day to rehearse / memorize. I start rotating them through the stage at about 1 so each can rehearse on it and the tech kids can light them.
6) throughout the day I visit with each group and give feedback and advice and help them problem solve. Occasionally there are things that need to be cut or rewritten and there is a conflict between the director and writer - at this point I am there to step in and sort it out, but generally I try to let the kids do everything. When I give directors advice or critiques I do so to the director in private, not in front of the cast - I want them in control and anything I say in front of the cast is going to be taken as more official than anything they say.
7) sometimes I have a crew kid / stage manager who takes pictures throughout the process and puts together a short video / slideshow to start the show, sometimes I don't. I throw together a program during the day (after I have seen all of them and have a running order (note: you are going to have a nice bell curve of quality, I try to start strong, bury the "eh" ones in the middle and end with a few strong pieces).
8) at 6:30 house is open and tickets are sold, and at 7 they perform.
It is truly my favorite event of the year, I hope you do and and I hope you love it as much as I do. If you have any more questions I am happy to be a resource.
I'm attaching the host guidelines for this festival, called The Red Eye Play Festival. It's coordinated by Wendy-Marie Martin, in conjunction with Hollins Playwriting Lab. Contact her for more information - it's great!
I too run a 24 Hour Play Festival, but it is a bit different than the others described here. Our festival's goal is to unite all student in the theatre department in a celebration of their work; it was inspired by watching choir and band concerts, wondering how I could get all the students collaborating in a space together. (Many students choose to be involved in plays and get this collaboration, and this helps to unite even the students who are only in theatre classes).
We don't have tickets, but collect donations. Through these donations, we have been able to start a scholarship fund for one freshman or sophomore to attend the Illinois High School Theatre Festival. This scholarship is decided on by the Thespian executive board and announced at our end of year awards ceremony. With excess funds raised, the students choose a theatre-oriented charitable organization that we contribute to. So, this festival has been successful in building community in many ways.
I just presented on this at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education conference last week, and attached is the handout I provided at the session. It's been an incredible community builder, and something the students and I look forward to each year. Break a leg with your own festivals!!!
Hi, we are doing our 3rd 24 Hour Play Festival this year. One of the primary reasons I opted for this is because our state standards dictate that students in higher level courses complete playwriting and directing projects. I've always preferred having them work on something like a one act that they can see come to life on stage in front of an audience as opposed to just scenes in class. So, our playwrights and directors are determined by who is in the upper level theatre courses and what they need to complete. Typically I have pairs work together to write and direct- this year we're going to try and split that up. We have sign ups for actors and technicians. The process looks a bit like this:
A month leading up to the event: lessons in class on direction and playwriting, promotion throughout the school to recruit performers and technicians
A Week before: Sign ups for Performers and Technicians, students practice playwriting in class with the kind of prompts they'd get for 24 Hour Play Project
3 Days before: I sit down and come up with playwriting criteria/ challenges, I also categorize the sign ups by "novice", "intermediate", "experienced", and "pro"- in terms of their experience/ skills. I then divide these among the directing/ writing pairs. Sometimes I do this equally and everyone has the same size cast and crew, other times I create small casts, medium casts, and large casts. The goal, either way is to make sure everyone has the same levels of experience to deal with. This also prevents boyfriends and girlfriends or best friends from being lumped together. We've also discussed and may shift to this- letting them know in advance who their casts will be and at the meeting the day before they get to meet with their casts and each cast member brings one prop that must be used in the show.
A Day before: A meeting is held with all the students who signed up- lead by the writers and directors. So they know what time to show up, what will happen, and what is expected of them.
Day of: All writer/ director pairs stay after school (A Friday) and get to pull their prompts and cast from a hat. They can trade with another group once, and can get rid of one of their prompts if they pull a wild card. The prompts they have to pull from are: Location/ Environment (sometimes extremely specific, sometimes vague. Example: 1950s Soda Shop vs. A Bench), Character Relationship (again sometimes specific, sometimes not. Some examples we've had: Sisters, a family, long-lost twins, love, hate), Condition/ Challenge (something like: must include rain, or magic, or set can only be created with chairs, must use flashlights, etc), Cast (when they receive it, it looks like "2 male experienced, 1 female pro, 2 female intermediate, 1 male novice"- meaning they don't know who they got, just their gender and their level of experience. I've also assigned people things like "1 neutral intermediate" meaning I know the person is flexible and will play either gender. The last option is Wild Card- if they select this they can either keep all 4 parameters or elect to put one back. These can be totally random:="pink flamingo", "rollerskating", "no one can physically touch one another", etc.
Once they have all of this they find out who their tech will be and which tech is designated their stage manager. This is so as they write if they find they need something weird (like, a pink flamingo related item) they can contact the SM to see what's possible for them to acquire. This will invariably influence their writing.
As a group they typically set their own deadlines with my approval. Here's an example from last year:
Dinner time, skeleton of a plot due.
Meet together for dinner and we will discuss with each other (this also includes English Dept. people I can convince to come and help) what we have planned and get feedback.
9:30PM- rough draft due. Have someone else read it for plot holes or rushed areas, giving feedback.
Then they essentially have until 5AM to get a complete script done.
Once their script is completed I give them the names of their actors. At this point they typically contact them in a frenzy of anxiety to make sure they are coming and to ask them to bring any specifics that they might need.They normally try to make time to sleep at some point. Some of them do this well, others don't. I highly recommend creating a "silent dark zone" with air mattresses and requiring them to use this space for sleeping only.
5AM - 6:30AM Print Scripts
6:30AM Stage Managers arrive
7AM Crews Arrive
7:30AM Casts Arrive
7:30 AM - 8AM Breakfast/ General Meeting with All
8AM- 12 Rehearsals (usually they get 3 sit down read throughs done, character analysis, and one or two on their feet rehearsals)
12:30-4:30: Rehearsals (blocking, polishing, full costume, etc.)
4:30-6:30 Rotation of Dinner- Tech Rehearsals- Dress Rehearsals for all groups
7PM House Opens
7:30 PM- Shows
10PM- Go home!
We Strike on the monday after school time.
Let me know if you have any questions.
These have been excellent responses to my inquiry. Thanks for the specific details. There seem to be so many wonderful ways to attempt this project, so I feel confident I can get it to work for my students. We are hoping to do this with another area troupe, to develop camaraderie between the two groups. Thanks to all who took time to answer me. Also, if someone has more to add, feel free to respond.
Sorry all - here is the attachment I meant to add earlier from my phone.
Nathan, thanks for taking time to attach this guidelines, as it is very helpful.
Thanks to everyone who has been contributing to this thread. I LOVE the practical facilitation information. I'm really looking forward to building this into my Advanced Drama class.
What a wonderful online community.
This will be my third year running the 24 Hour Play Festival, and it is my FAVORITE event of the year. It's madness, but it's only 24 hours, so I sleep it off :)
Two of my Thespian officers are the "Executive Directors" of 24 - their job is organizing everything. So, they need to speak to our Activities Director and secure at least 2 other staff members to volunteer to be there for a 2 hour shift (I do need to sleep eventually!) They also put up marketing materials, gather signups, etc. They also create a timeline of the event and "run" the event. Typically, they do not participate in the plays, because invariably, someone will drop out or need someone at the last minute, and they become a floater to step in wherever needed. Though, if they are begging me to be a writer, I usually let them :) w
Signups are simple. Anyone can participate and they just give a ranking of whether they want to be an actor, writer, director or technician. I just make sure the ratios are right, but I pretty much let anyone be whatever they want, regardless of previous experience or skill - I think of 24 as the opportunity to do something new and take a risk, which is why I love it so much. Only my playwrights and officers spend the night in the theater - I treat it like a field trip and get parental permission forms, talk with my admin, etc, to make it happen. I lock all the doors and set the alarm once everyone's there, so nobody can leave without me knowing. Yes, I sleep under my desk, haha!
On Friday, my officers arrive early to set up. We've gotten lucky and done it during a teacher-in service Friday, so they are very well rested. They choose a very loose theme for the plays and curate a table of "inspirational props" for the writers to use. They create a couple of rules for the plays, like they need to use at least 1 thing from the prop table, or whatever. We also try to stock my room with anything people might need - costume supplies, poster paint, random props. They also set up a snack table - keep everyone fed and hydrated! No cranky hungry teens!
The playwrights arrive at 7pm - we pair them into random teams and they pull the gender of their actors out of a hat. (We don't cast it until the next morning.) Then...they get writing! Around 10pm, we have our first challenge, where an officer will add a surprise rule or a twist. We usually make it a word or something you have to include. First drafts are due at 1am - you need a finished arc! - and we gather on the stage and do a read-through of their scripts. We do a quick work shopping of scripts - what we think is working, what we might change. This also gives me a moment to preview and guide scripts in a different direction if it is looking not suitable for our stage (we are still educational theater, kiddos! Keep it clean!). I've found this incredibly incredibly helpful, and it really works to polish up those scripts. Anyway, usually at this point, I go to sleep, and the kids stay up however long to finish their scripts. I might call lights out around 3am. At this point, we also have an idea of which director will pair well with each script, so I have the officers pair them up, clear it with me, and it works out well. Honestly, I don't care if people just work with their friends. I try it mix it up, but there aren't that many opportunities in my classes and program to just work with your friends, and sometimes that it just really fun, so I let it be. It's usually pretty clear which directors would enjoy which pieces though. If it became a problem, I'd change it to be more random.
We wake up bright and early at 9am, when the directors meet us. I usually get a parent volunteer to bring everyone breakfast. Directors and playwrights meet over breakfast to discuss the plays and read them and create a dream cast list for the play. We then have a big casting discussion with playwrights and directors and cast the plays. We have a pretty solid community where they tend to like each other, so this discussion stays kind and usually is about placing everyone in the right place to have max fun and challenge themselves. If it gets sticky about something, we just flip a coin. Again, if this got negative or mean, I would just make it random or cast it myself. I don't like having kids write for a particular actor though from the beginning because I feel like it might get more personal that way and put someone in an uncomfortable position. Casting it this way has allowed for people to totally play roles they never would have played, and it has been pretty rewarding.
Actors arrive at 10am on Saturday and they have a first read through and start rehearsing! I pretty much stay out it - usually I'm pretty hands-on, but I let them do it entirely this time and only offer help if I'm asked. This is all about process for me! This is the time when I get relieved by other staff members. I usually go home, take a quick nap and a shower and I'll get some grading done. I might do a coffee/food run for any kids here too if anyone's wanting anything. (It's so weird. I feel so superfluous at this point - the kids are on it!) We do a workshop where they have to present some of it for feedback from the group around 1pm right after lunch. Technical cues are due by 2pm and my tech crew gets working on sound and light cues. Nothing too fancy though. The actors work really hard to be memorized and it's expected that they are - though, I think I may add this year an option to put monologues or sections in a nice binder and use it if needed.
We do a tech cue to cue from 5-6pm. Everyone takes a break from 6-7, gets dinner and into costume, we clean up everything and pack up anything we don't need (nobody wants to clean after the performance, surprise surprise) and then we open the house at 7pm! Tickets are $5, which pretty much covers our food and supplies. We don't make much on it, so it's not much of a fundraiser, but it's a blast.
Anyway, if you have other questions, let me know! Hope this wasn't too long!
Palo Alto High School (Paly) has done an event called Play in a Day for the past fourteen years. One things that distinguishes our event is that Theatre Arts Alumni participate annually. The event is held the first Saturday of Winter Break in December when many alumni are home on break. The details of how our event is run is in the outline below. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL PLAY in a DAY
This event usually draws between 75-100 participants. It is one of the most popular events of the year. Almost all proceeds are profit because expenses are minimal (programs and posters only).