Sunday, September 20, 2015

24 Hour Playfest Savannah or What I did with My Weekend

I have the good fortune to live in a very art positive town. You can always find some kind of performance or gallery or something you can involve yourself in. Like today, Sunday September 20th 2015, there are auditions for Hamlet as being done by Savannah Shakes, a theater company that does modern twists on the classic Shakesperean stories. They're fantastic and I look forward to this performance which comes out in December. This past weekend though, I had the great pleasure of being a part of the 24 Hour Playfest which happens twice a year in Savannah. This is an all volunteer production of several newly written plays. In short, the play is written, directed, rehearsed, and shown all within approximately 24 hours. This year, I both wrote and acted. It was quite a heady and tiring experience. I don't know if I will pull double-duty again, but doing it the first time was pretty awesome. My first time being involved, I enjoyed myself immensely.

Writing started at 10 o'clock Friday night. I wrote two plays between 10 and 1 in the morning. Granted, they were shorties, only 10 pages long. Our time limit was between 10 and 15 minutes max, so I felt comfortable turning that in. I titled my play, "Three Witches and a Sacrifice." It took the standard blood sacrifice ritual and turned it on its ear to make something much more amusing than I would normally write. I didn't want to get too deep, dark, and broody. If you would like to read it, I have included the text of the play as a download through my public Dropbox. Download and give it a read through. I only ask if you decide to produce it somewhere that you give me fair warning of your intent to do so and credit appropriately. So that was Friday night. I went home, went to bed, gathered about 2 1/2 hours of sleep, and was up again in time for actors call at 7:30 in the morning.

Being in a room with many talents actors, both young and old, was a little intimidating. I haven't been on stage in several years, so I doubted my ability to pull off a consistent character and a good show. However, I didn't let that stop me from showing up and giving it everything I had. I was the only writer to come back and be in a play, so I was the only one who was dog tired when we started. A couple cups of coffee got me pretty perked up though. After a round of directors meet and greet, casting was done. I was cast in a production written by a friend of mine to play a law clerk against a rather eccentric judge and a couple getting divorced over a coffeemaker. The play was a hoot. With casting nailed down, we began rehearsals at about 8:30 in the morning. Front of house opened at 7:30 pm with the show starting at 8 so we had a good 12 hours, including lunch to hammer a play together. My group included three men and myself, so if it hadn't been for the female director, I would have been on my own. Thankfully, I wasn't and things went well.

By the time tech run through started at 5:30 in the afternoon, I was jittery. I didn't have my lines nailed down. I was still dropping cues. I felt like a mess. On top of being super tired. I had a coke and soldiered on. Our first on-stage run through was messy, but showed promise. We needed some more straight run throughs together so that we could make sure we were picking up our cues. I had one line that no matter what I did it wouldn't stick. Thankfully, it became so obvious that my scene partner just ad libbed around it and kept going so that we didn't get bogged down. Front of house opened on time. Last chance to go to the bathroom and truly prep for what felt a little like the end of the world.

The play run a little over 10 minutes. In our final run through in front of a very good audience, we passed with flying colors. We dropped only two lines in the whole thing (the one I always dropped and one other). The audience laughed in all the right places and seemed visibly affected in others. I would know, I spent most of the play looking out past the lights because I faced forward essentially center stage. We were the next to last play to go on. In fact, the last two plays were the one I was in and the one that I wrote. Though I never got to see my play being performed, I got to hear it from backstage. The girls who played my parts were impressive and the play went off without a hitch. All in all, things went splendidly. After a group photo, I headed home to get some rest. Two days of heavy creative expression can take a toll on you. I went to bed by 10 and slept till noon on Sunday. All together, a good weekend. I look forward to seeing it again.

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