This is a big semester for the Newman University Theatre Department, as upcoming projects include “Dante’s Inferno,” the Music Department’s spring show and a festival of one-acts directed by some of the Newman theatre students.
However, there is one theatrically significant day that should not be overlooked.
Mark Mannette, director of theatre, is happy to announce the ninth annual 24-Hour Theatre Project. Playwrights begin composing their plays at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 and performances will be held at 8 p.m. Feb. 8 in Jabara Flexible Theatre.
Manette provided some background on the event and why people should participate.
Q: For someone who doesn’t know anything about the 24-Hour Theatre Project, how would you describe it to them?
A: Well it’s kind of exciting. Everyone is placed in teams. We get together a couple of hours before the 24-hour period begins to make sure everyone knows what team they’re on, so that the playwrights have a sense of who they’re going to be writing for. At 8 p.m., the playwrights start writing their plays, and they have to have it finished by 8 a.m. when the directors and actors show up. They rehearse it all day long and perform it at 8 p.m. the following evening, hence the “24 hours.”
Q: How can someone sign up?
A: [The form] is going to be going out today, and it can be emailed back or turned in as a paper copy. It’s open to staff, faculty, Newman students, perspective students and people in the community.
Q: Why would you encourage someone to participate in the event?
A: If they really want a theatre experience, but they feel like their schedule is too packed, it only requires one day, and you get a full experience.
Q: When did the tradition of the 24-Hour Theatre Project begin? What experience did you have with it before bringing it to Newman?
A: The 24-Hour Theatre Project started in New York City in the ’90s and soon branched out throughout the rest of the country. So I’ve also done 24-Hour Theatre Projects in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. This is my 19th time. Sometimes I’ve written, and sometimes I’ve directed, and sometimes I’ve acted; most of the time, I function as the artistic director that produces the event.
Q: Would you say you have a favorite role from those experiences, or do you enjoy them equally?
A: I enjoy all of them fairly equally. I think I understand from a director’s point of view how to get them ready to perform that night. As artistic director, I kind of supervise all aspects of it.
Q: What would you say are some of the interesting challenges of 24-Hour Theatre?
A: Some people have the misconception that you have to stay up for 24 hours, which has been a myth since its inception. I think it’s important that everyone gets some sleep.
Q: Will there be any prompts for the event?
A: There will be some prompts and we can’t reveal those prompts until closer to the time. The prompts help ensure that the piece is really being created that night.
With elements of mystery and excitement, this year’s 24-Hour Theatre Project inches closer. Students, faculty and staff wishing to participate should watch their emails for the form, and those outside the Newman community can contact Mark Mannette at email@example.com.