Sunday, June 29, 2008

Twenty Four Hour Play Festival

The festival was a blast! Exhausting, but so much incredible, focused, collective energy, not just from our own team, but from all the teams working at the same time, trying to create art, or a semblance of it.

On friday night at 6:30 everyone gathered at the Ukiah Player's Theatre to meet, sign in as a team, make a plan, and find out the theme. We got lucky. "Death" was chosen. My writing partner Natasha Yim had an idea that fit perfectly so that gave us a head start. She and I went to her husband's office, put on the coffee, and started brain storming.

I've never worked with a partner before, so it took me a while to figure out how to proceed. I tend to just write everything down in one expulsion, sort of like vomiting words, not worrying too much about each line of dialogue. Once the structure is there, I go back and fix the words. Natasha sets up an outline first, going line by line, making sure she's staying on track. It took about an hour before we were in the zone, finding that balance point where we were both contributing. We spent as much time laughing as typing. By midnight, we had a play. By 3:00 am, it was a good play. I got to bed at 4:00, then up at 7:30 to meet the actors and director.

8:00 am the whole team got together outside the theatre and did the read through. The actors loved it. It sounded even better when they read it than how I imagined it in my head. Right away, the actors embodied the characters, adding nuances to the dialogue I hadn't foreseen. Natasha and I were exhausted, but happy. We left to get more sleep while the actors got to work.

At 3:00 pm I went back to the theatre to watch them on stage. Incredibly, they knew most of their lines already! I can write a play in one night, but there's no way I can learn lines in 7 hours.

8:00- Showtime! It was a good turn out. All seven plays were about death, but every team had a different idea about it. There was a campy Sci Fi comedy about reigniting the sun, a play written by a group of high school students about Canada nuking Ukiah, a play about ghosts messing with a fake psychic, and one about a mad taxi driver on his last night of work. Our play was about Vampires in a support group to help them fit in with humans. The vampire therapist has a nervous breakdown after listening to them "whine for the last millennia." After all the players took their bows, I found my teammates and we hugged, everyone feeling high on fatigue and excitement. It was an incredible experience.

To celebrate, my hubby and I went to the Ukiah Brewery to dance to The Mad Maggies, an eclectic, polka, ska, celtic, zydeco, rock band; the kind of music you MUST dance to. By the time I made it to bed at 1 am I felt that I'd climbed Half Dome in a day. But what a day!

If you've never done a 24 hour play fest, I highly recommend it. Exhausting, yes, but it's incredible what can be created in a short amount of time. I plan to do it again next year!


Natasha Yim said...

You're an amazing woman, Terena! I can't believe you blogged this event already. It's truly inspired me to go back to my blog which I've neglected for 7 months! Glad you had fun. It truly was an amazing experience, and I'm glad I could share it with you.


Jody Gehrman said...

Yay! I'm so sad I missed it this year; this is normally one of my annual creative highlights. Sounds like you and Natasha worked together beautifully. I'd love to read your play!