Most theater productions take weeks, or even months, to rehearse before the curtain rises on opening night. The same is typically true on the Bowdoin stage. But not this Saturday night.
At 7 p.m. tomorrow, Masque & Gown actors will perform original plays that were written, directed and rehearsed in only 24 hours.
“At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the show goes up,” Masque & Gown President Miriam Fraga ’18 said. “In whatever state it’s in, it goes up.”
The process starts Friday. The playwrights gather and begin writing in groups or individually, aiming to create plays that last 15 to 20 minutes. Although theater space is reserved for them, they are also allowed to go back to their rooms to work. The only guideline is that the scripts must be completed by Saturday morning, when the director and actors meet for the first time and select the play or plays they wish to produce. They have 12 hours with the scripts until the audience arrives.
Fraga is excited to bring the Masque & Gown annual tradition back after its hiatus last year.
“Unfortunately, last year we weren’t able to do it because of lack of interest,” Fraga said. “It’s a tradition to [consistently] have this show go up. We [the Masque & Gown Board] made the decision that we really wanted to try and make that happen.”
The production, now called “The Show Formerly Known as the 24 Hour Show” because of copyright issues, is strategically placed at the beginning of the year to give participants a taste of what they could continue to do with Masque & Gown throughout the year, such as playwriting workshops and one-act plays. Participants signed up to be in the show at the student activities fair and at the annual Masque & Gown ice cream social.
“We like doing stuff like ‘[The Show Formerly Known as the] 24 Hour Show’ because it gets anyone from any level of theater experience to be able to participate,” Fraga said.
Maggie Burke ’21 and K. Irving ’21 are two of the four actors in the show. They have both participated in theater before, but have never been a part of a show produced in such a short time frame.
“I’ve never gone into a play not knowing what my character is going to be, what the plot is going to be, what I’m going to be asked to be. So that’s stressful,” Irving said. “But also more exciting because I don’t have to second-guess it either.”
“I don’t know if there is a way to prepare,” Burke said. “I think just be there and ready to go with whatever they throw at you. It will definitely be a challenge.”
Fraga believes theater brings people together.
“It’s a good way to meet new and different people. My experience in theater, especially in Masque & Gown, [has been] meeting people that I would not have met otherwise. We all do a bunch of different things. It’s a wide range of people from all sorts of different academic and region backgrounds, and theater brings us all together,” she said.
According to Fraga, the sleep deprivation is worth it.
“It’s exciting to see the creative things people come up with in the set number of hours that they have,” she said.