Springboard Theatre Company to host 24-Hour Play Festival

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Springboard Theater will hold its second annual 24-Hour Play Festival on Saturday, Oct. 29, showcasing five original plays written the night before the performance.

The festival will showcase the acting, directing, writing and producing of DePaul students who will come together to create five original works to be completed within a 24-hour time frame.

“Audiences can expect an extremely wide variety of shows,” said Tori Hanes, one of the five directors. “This year, audiences can look forward to themes like mystery, romantic comedy, horror and sci-fi, just to name a few.”

DePaul student Doug Klain (center) performing at last year's 24-Hour Play Festival (Photo courtesy of Ella Lubienski)

DePaul student Doug Klain (center) performing at last year’s 24-Hour Play Festival (Photo courtesy of Ella Lubienski)

Hanes directed last year and said some adjustments will be made for this year’s festival, including the addition of a Halloween costume contest for the audience to participate in.

“Last year, we had about half dramas and half comedies, but this year the themes and prompts for the writers have been revamped,” she said. “The stage managers will also have to work with cardboard and other pieces of random materials to make an actual set for their show, which is an entirely new addition for this year.”

The play fest will feature the works of five writers, five directors, five stage managers and a team of actors per each work written, which is the same premise as last year’s first 24-Hour Play Fest.

“We haven’t met with each other, which can be nerve-wracking since it’s next week,” said Mel Sanchez, one of the writers this year. “But that’s all in the idea of the festival. We meet the day before and basically just write a boat ton of plays to be performed.”

The rigid time frame of only 24 hours is the most challenging, yet most rewarding aspect of the production. Hanes said she expects to spend the entire time “stressing out and doing a million things at once,” but what ties the production together is having the seven-person cast and crew take risks and trust in each other.

“Writing, casting, blocking and memorizing a 20-minute play in 24 hours is a nearly impossible task,” Hanes said. “But that challenge is what makes it so unique. You get to witness a lot of risks and improvisation, which is a unique experience regardless of your stance on theater.”

For the new members, the show can be a little nerve-racking.

“I’m a bit nervous to be honest,” Sanchez said. “It’s my first time ever working with Springboard, and I’m excited to get to work with a writing team and to see the finished product as well.”

Peter Bucci, last year’s artistic director of Springboard Theater, will continue his role this year. Bucci said the tasks for the writers and directors are less gimmicky, and more centered around Aristotle’s six elements of drama: plot, character, theme, language, rhythm and spectacle. These six pillars will shape the plays into better-rounded final products.

“This way, the writers are getting something to help them and make the show interesting,” Bucci said. “An example of this is to write a character whom the audience doesn’t know if they can trust.”

Bucci was inspired by a local theater in his hometown of Wakefield, R.I., and decided to carry the tradition with him to Chicago.

“Growing up, it was one event where I truly saw what it means to be a community,” he said. “It brings people together more than months and months of rehearsals for a show can.”

As with many theater productions, the cast and crew expect to become very close during the show process. However, this cast and crew will do so all within a day and night’s work.

“I love how seven people who where a little more than strangers before are able to bond and make original theater in only a day’s time,” Hanes said. “I think the sense of community and support is what makes 24-Hour Play Fest so incredible.”

For Bucci, a big part of his return had to do with the community itself.

“Our community comes through as a theater, and we support one another in every way possible,” Bucci said. “In the theater we have a saying: I will hold you up, I will not let you fall. That is what we do. That is what we should all do. Witness it, be a part of it.”

Springboard’s 24-Hour Play Fest will be held in the DePaul Student Center room 120AB at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29. Tickets will cost $3 for students and $5 for the general public. To stay in the Halloween spirit, a costume contest will be held at the event and the audience member with the best costume will win a jack-o-lantern full of candy.