The show must go on ... quickly 

Savannah's first 24-hour play festival is all about having fun

Live theater is a pressure cooker, and the people who do it again and again absolutely thrive on it. If something goes wrong, or is somehow unintentional, you roll with it. You adapt. You slough it off, incorporate it into the show and you keep going.

Live theater is an adrenaline rush like no other.

And then there's this: Conceived as a creative challenge for college-level playwriting classes, the 24-Hour Play ups the ante - an original, 10-minute work is conceived, written, cast, rehearsed and performed in exactly one day. The blood pumps ... the creative juices flow ... all the other rushing-liquid bodily metaphors come into play.

Deep thought is not an option. Action is mandatory.

Timothy Reynolds, an on-again, off-again member of the Savannah theater scene for nearly 20 years, recently moved back to town and immediately got onstage (he played Jack, the social worker, in the Bay Street production of The Boys Next Door).

He's organized "A Midsummer Night's Play Festival" - open to one and all - for June 10 and 11 at Muse Arts Warehouse, the very place where improv comedy, another form of daring theatrical wire-walking, takes place every Monday night, via the Odd Lot.

Be advised, it ain't Shakespeare. "Not much is expected of a 10-minute play - especially a 10-minute play that was written in 24 hours," Reynolds says. "But at the same time, they're a lot of fun and really challenging. That's where the largest impetus to do it comes from.

"Everyone wants to see what they can do in that time crunch, but the main purpose is because it's a good time had by all."

"I'm very excited that Tim is bringing the 24-Hour Play Festival to Muse this year," says the theater's founder, JinHi Soucy Rand. "This is a very valuable exercise for all of the incredibly talented ‘theatre kids' in our area, and it is always such a high energy, creative experience. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with."

Even, let's say, a musical? Reynolds says he's actually seen them done, "And they were very good, very entertaining. That's actually part of the excitement of the process. I mean, they crammed a lot of songs in there! But it was all really cute and a lot of fun to watch."

Although ringmaster Reynolds will have a few organizational thoughts up his sleeve (to avoid absolute chaos), the prospective participants who show up at Muse at 7 p.m. on June 10 will be more or less in charge of their own destinies.

"At that point," he says. "we'll get a feel for how many people are going to be involved, and who's interested in doing what - acting, writing or directing the plays."

The official start time is 8 p.m. That's when the clock begins ticking.

Reynolds especially wants to see new faces. "We very much encourage neophytes to come out - if you haven't done theater before, we encourage you," he says.

Once the writing, directing and acting contingents have been decided upon, "teams" will be chosen, quick auditions held. "I'm very big on open dialogue," adds Reynolds, "talking with people and getting an idea as to what they want to do, and then we go from there. Theater is a collaborative thing, and that's certainly how I'm going to organize it as well."

There will be a theme ... of sorts. "Because it's a 10-minute play, usually it's a theme based on time. And everything we do in a normal play has to happen in 10 minutes."

This, Reynolds insists, is to ensure some sort of continuity. "I was in a playwriting competition where the theme was ‘running out of time,'" he explains. "So the characters in the play were in a situation where they were running out of time ... the writers can make it funny, they can make it tragic, they can make it a combination of the two. But they were given that theme to work with, and everyone came at it with a different point of view.

"The beauty of a festival like this that, since you're really allowed to do anything that you like, and see how far you can push yourself. And how far your imagination goes in a particular direction."

On Day Two, the writers, directors and actors meet up and the collaborative process really begins. Memorization, rehearsal, blocking, light cues ... it's all a literal race against the clock.

"We do a tech run about 5 or 6 p.m. .... And at 8, the show is on," Reynolds says. "And then we'll see exactly what happens."

A Midsummer Night's Play Festival

When: At 8 p.m. June 10 (participants only) and 11 (public performances)

Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703D Louisville Road

Contact: theatreupstart@gmail.com













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Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung was Connect's Arts & Entertainment Editor from May 2009 to August 2014.

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