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GIMME JUST A LITTLE MORE TIME:
24-hour theater at the Yale School of Drama
Twenty-four hour theater at the Yale School of Drama (YSD) is designed to be over as soon as it begins. Six playwrights are given 12 hours in which to write short plays. Directors immediately cast the plays from a pool of volunteer actors—many of whom are double- or triple-cast—and then each director is given two hours to rehearse the plays and all technical elements, including lighting and sound. After one dress rehearsal, audiences enter the theater, and the actors perform plays that are still fresh off of the printers.

But the conspicuous lack of rehearsal time is just one of the obstacles facing the playmakers. Presented on Halloween in 2003, the theme for the project was "spooky 24-hour theater." The writers all agreed to incorporate a few common elements in their plays: a jack o'lantern, a lagoon, a quote from Hamlet, and the line “she would be up s--- creek.” The results were staggeringly diverse.


The annual 24-hour theater project is the rawest theater that ever sees an audience at the YSD, and it's the only forum in which current playwriting students can present their work to a public audience. Pressure, in many different forms, is the name of the game.

Yet the project is as liberating for its participants as it is stressful, because it is an accepted environment for taking creative risks. Hilarious delirium sets in around 3 a.m. in the computer lab and never dissipates until after the set has been struck, just minutes after the final curtain call.

Playmakers are gluttons for punishment, and no one who participates in the creation of theater is untouched by the ephemeral nature of the medium. But sometimes that painful reality of theater can be used to create unparalleled joy.

a documentary by Tom Isler
2004, 37 min, color


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