Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Theater review: Rover Dramawerks’ 24-hour play festival called One Day Only
This is the pure, rough, unpolished, and dirty theater of experimentation.
PLANO The path from page to stage is a harsh artistic experience. A writer's creation is passed swiftly into care of dozens of other artists before it ever reaches the eyes and ears of the audience: from writer to director, to technical designers, to stage management, back to the director and then to the writer and back again until opening night. There won’t be a consensus on whether it’s finished, and by curtain call the play is done, regardless of the state it’s in.
Without the warm cushion of time, this is the life of the 24-hour play festival, one of which took place Friday and Saturday in Plano. At most one-act play festivals, there's a desperate race to make curtain call a mere 24 hours after the playwright puts pen to paper. Rover Dramawerks' One Day Only festival was no different.
The sixteenth of its “seven short plays from concept to curtain in just one day” played out Saturday at the Courtyard Theatre of Plano.
After enlisting interest online, a group of writers, directors, actors, and technicians gathered together for the first time Friday. The event began with a lottery of thematic devices -- one sentence that will define the writer’s play. The lottery serves two purposes: to ensure no play was written beforehand, and to give the writers creative ignition. This year’s lines were:
- “Two sisters head for the monster truck rally for a night of car crunching fun”
- “Meet me at the monkey bars”
- “No matter where you go, there you are”
- “Half a dozen of six, one of another”
- “Being noticed carries a price”
- “Praise god from whom all blessings flow”
- “Blood makes the grass grow”
Most integrated the concepts into their scripts; others made barely a passing effort, inserting the line and then moving on.
After pulling a thematic device from a hat, the writers stayed at the theater and worked through Friday night, composing a 10- to 15-minute play based on the subject they received. After a 6:30 a.m. deadline the writing process ended as the directors returned and the casts were selected from the actor pool. The actors themselves did not arrive until 8 a.m. when they met the directors and other cast members.
While the blocking was completed and the lines were memorized, the writers went home to sleep and dreamt no more. The plays were rehearsed until the very last moment, and at 8 p.m. the curtains went up and show went on.
Seven plays crossed the stage that night, and a majority of them were comedic sketches. They ranged from topical to non-sequitor, formulaic to completely disconnected.
This kind of festival is an experience for both the theater novice and enthusiast alike. However, for the novice, one must keep in mind that this is theater in the raw. This is the pure, rough, unpolished, and dirty theater of experimentation. There’s no time for ego or regret until after the last curtain falls. In a world where the stage is loosing its audience, it’s these kinds of events that bring a rush of new blood into one of our oldest artistic traditions.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Assignment Desk, DFW
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