24 hour plays: The most intense fun since Pop-Up Pirate

I used to be scared of this game because once the pirate popped out and hit me on the head!
I used to be scared of this game because once the pirate popped out and hit me on the head!

The reason for writing this hub is because I did my first 24 hour play last weekend and now that I've got time I want to shout from the rooftops about how totally awesome it was and how much fun I had doing it. Maybe some of you reading this have also done 24 hour plays. Maybe some of you are thinking, "What the HELL? A 24 hour play?!" Maybe some of you are thinking they are no big deal, and I guess you're right to some extent. But if you really want to challenge yourself as an actor, or a writer, or a director, etc, this is the perfect challenge.

So what is a 24 hour play?

A 24 hour play is where you, as a group, have 24 hours to write a play and then cast, direct and rehearse it to perform in front of an audience. And boy is it crazy! Hectic even! But it is worth it. It's one of those challenges where it might sound cool to you in the beginning, but then when you start the process you think it's almost impossible to pull off, and then when you do pull it off...wow. Behold the greatest, most enormous feeling of accomplishment. Some of the people I asked during our 24 hour play said that they find it helps them improve: writers get over writer's block, actors overcome stage fright, directors find the confidence within themselves to take control and be the leaders that the rest of the team need, and the producers learn to hold their nerve during this short period of time.

My Experience

I had never done a 24 hour play before so I didn't really know what to expect. I'm not particularly confident when in front of an audience so I thought this would be a great way for me to loosen up a bit, and I'd get to do some of the writing as well. Getting there I was instantly welcomed in - along with the other newbies - by the second and third years, and we all quickly gelled.

And then the timer started.

We started off calmly, discussing different ideas each of us had for the play, and we soon decided on a time-travel theme of theatre through the ages. We all wanted to write and act in it, so there was no problem with lack of writers or lack of actors - everyone would pitch in with everything. We split ourselves into groups to work on the different eras of theatre - Greek, Shakespearean, Victorian and Modern - and work out who would be who in our group. I was in the Victorian group, and although we found it very easy to come up with ideas, it was quite difficult to stick to deadlines for writing our script. We managed it though, and between the different groups a finished script appeared before us.

That's when it became stressful!

Trying to learn your lines, become your character, find costumes and props that are necessary for your character, and fit in rehearsals in less than ten hours is a crazy business! We had one or two breakdowns where people thought they wouldn't be able to do it on the night, tears and nosebleeds (moi). It was really hard for us to keep our cool - the clock was ticking and we had so much to do.

It was about 6.30pm when we were able to take a deep breath and think to ourselves, "This could actually go as planned" - half an hour before we would be performing! I wasn't even in my costume yet! I tried on my suit in the bathroom and realised I was going to have to hold my trousers up by keeping my hands in my pockets since I didn't have a belt (I should've realised that from the start since it was a men's suit and I'm so skinny!), but luckily that went well with my character who was a fairly pompous arse and fancied himself (or herself - he turns out to be a lesbian in drag) to be quite important despite a lack of title and estate.

The performance was amazing! That's all I can say about it. We nailed it, nailed it, nailed it! And despite my stage fright, I didn't mess up, though I had to improvise when my moustache didn't want to stay on for my last scene.

Here are a few pictures of our final performance to give you a feel for it:

Seriously, I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with - they were all amazing, all so fantastic in their own way. The talent...wow! And the 24 hour play has been the perfect way to help me to get to know some of these people, and now I'm finding myself less detached and more involved.

I'm still not very confident, but whenever I feel like I can't do something in theatre, I think back to the 24 hour play and I'm like, "I did that. Hell, if I can do that, I can do anything!" As I said before, it's the greatest feeling of accomplishment.

So if you get the chance to do a 24 hour play, I would totally recommend doing it. And if you have done a 24 hour play before, let me know what your experiences were like in the comments section below. I would really like to hear from you all!


Keep smiling!

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