Courtesy of Lisa Meixner McCullough '20

The Department of Performing and Media Arts started Festival 24 — known then as the 24-hour Playfest — in 2011.

August 27, 2018

With Only 24 Hours, Students Put Together 4 Plays, 1 Dance Routine

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After what was by all accounts a frenzied, sleep-deprived and caffeine-fueled period of preparation, participants of Saturday’s Festival 24 pulled off four plays and one dance routine — from creation to presentation — in just 24 hours.

The Department of Performing and Media Arts started Festival 24 — known then as the 24-hour Playfest — in 2011, which included just one play. In 2015, film and dance were added to the mix, according to the producer of this year’s event, Milo Reynolds-Dominguez ’20. 

“My role is basically facilitator, organizer, producer. I do have some say in kind of the artistic direction, but it’s more of like a gentle nudge,” Reynolds-Dominguez told The Sun. “We have people who haven’t written before, people who haven’t directed, people who haven’t acted. It’s a super low risk, high reward way to dip your toe into the theatre community.”

Bryan 0 ’20 directed Body of Water, a play written over the course of the night by Audrey Rytting ’20. He had from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. to read the play, cast the actors and run the rehearsals. 

“Some [actors] I knew from the PMA department, others are new members or freshmen who I had no experience working with, so it’s been a lot of fun to see the range of experiences,” Hagelin said. 

Vanessa Okoyeh ’19, who starred in Body of Water, brought her prior experience in stand-ups and improv to the play. She started performing at 16 years old but still felt stressed under the unusually short time frame.

“It was hectic, it was a kerfuffle of conundrums, but it was one of the most amazing experiences and I encourage every single student to do it at least once in their career,” Okoyeh told The Sun.

According to Reynolds-Dominguez, the confluence of so many creative minds at work on such a tight schedule can be quite unpredictable since “nobody knows what’s gonna happen.”

Creators who participated in the program also “chose not to shy away” from the difficult topics, according to Reynolds-Dominguez.

“Some years our festival has a light-hearted, comedic tone, while others address more serious, difficult subjects,” he said in the prelude speech of the program. “This year in particular, our writers, and we as a creative community believe it’s important to form a dialogue with our audiences.”

One of the plays, Under Grandma’s Date Tree, written by Brady Bunkelman ’19, necessitated the content warning, as it touched on sexual consent, harassment and assault in the queer community.

“I believe that [they] reflect unfortunate realities within the queer community,” Bunkelman said in an email to The Sun. “Having been in a somber mood within the ten hours I was writing the play, I turned towards reflection on some personal experience with these.”

The spring semester show is set for Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m.