The Hippo


May 30, 2020








Actors Claire Amirault, Christine LaPlante, Olvia Dodd, Deb Doda, and Rebekah Carrow rehearse with director Wanda Strukus for Eulogy by Kelly Smith during theatre KAPOW’s 24 Hour Play Festival 2013. Photo by Matthew Lomanno.

See the 24 Hour Play Festival production

When: Saturday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Stockbridge Theatre, 5 Pinkerton St., Derry
Admission: $15, visit

Theatrical sprint
5 plays, 24 hours

By Kelly Sennott

At the 24 Hour Play Festival this weekend, you can expect lots of “newness,” say co-producers Mark Marshall and Kyp Pilalas.

It’s why theatre KAPOW and Wax Idiotical Films are hosting the fourth annual 24 Hour Play Festival, which spans Friday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m., through Saturday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. In just 24 hours, five playwrights (Brandon M. Crose, Patrick Cleary, Barbata Danser, Paul Goodwin and Jasmine Roth) and five directors (Brett Billings, Jamileh Jemison, Debera-Ann Lund, Dan Pelletier, and Deb Shaw) will create five plays from nothing.
According to past participants, it’s exhilarating.
Here’s how it works: Playwrights have 12 hours starting Friday night to piece together a single, 10-minute short play structured about a few required elements and a set number of actors. (A prop, a man’s name, and a kitten, for instance, could be required elements for the script.) This way, writers and directors can’t come in with a pre-conceived idea. 
The next morning, everyone meets again at 8 a.m., eats breakfast, and then actors and directors receive their scripts. They have the rest of the day to interpret, memorize and perform something stage-worthy later that night.
“The beautiful thing is that we have the playwright with us during the rehearsal period. … If we have questions of why something is a certain way, the playwright is there to answer those questions,” Olivia Dodd, the youngest actor in the festival, said in a phone interview.
The experience, says the 17-year-old festival veteran actress, is like no other. The excitement is in the time restraint and the creativity forced out of you during that time period.
“The chaos and the scariness of the unknown is what makes it so invigorating, so intoxicating, and is why we come back to do it,” Dodd said.
Pilalas and Marshall agree. They know a thing or two about making work, fast; the pair have written together for 24 48 Hour Film Festivals and all of theatre KAPOW’s play festivals. 
This year, they’re taking a step back from writing for a producing role; their film company, Wax Idiotical Films, has partnered with theatre KAPOW, and they have a few ideas on how to spice things up. One involves more writer and director restrictions.
It might seem these elements would make writing more difficult, more cumbersome, but in actuality, the restrictions provide, if not a skeleton, a “few bones” to work around, Pilalas said. You never really have to be mocked by a blank computer screen, and they can help get the juices flowing.
Pilalas and Marshall say one of the most satisfying things is when, magically, after hours of head-banging, everything clicks. The story is there, and the writing pours out of you. When the 12 hours is up, you’ve written an entire play.
“It totally pumps us up,” Pilalas said. “We’ve done four 48 Hour Film Projects this year. … You’re so excited and you have all this energy.”
Dodd says she always learns a lot from these festivals.
“I always come away exhausted, but with so many new thoughts and ideas. … It’s given me confidence that I can memorize quickly and adapt with working with a new director and people I’ve never met before,” she said.
What’s even better: when there’s a connection between the playwright’s work and the actor’s execution. 
“Two years ago, Aaron Compagna just blew us away with our script. He nailed every line, every word,” Marshall said. “We had been writing a lot of monologues, until we took a step back and said, ‘Oh yeah! People have to memorize these in a very short amount of time.’ But this specific [part] had to be a monologue, and Aaron knocked it out of the park. It was a very cool moment.”
Pilalas and Marshall say there’s a level of respect amongst audience members. Dodd feels it too.
“There’s always this energy,” Dodd said. “The audience has no idea what they’re going to see. … Everybody’s anticipating this new, fresh theater, and they’re eager to give you their attention. It makes for a great experience; you have that giving and receiving between artist and audience.” 
As seen in the October 16, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu