Drama comes under pressure in 24-Hour Play Festival

SODA's first 24-Hour Play Festival cast in 2011
Student playwright Ruthie Heavrin and cast for SODA

Oct. 24, 2013
By Darla Martin Tucker

At 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, after writing three rough drafts of a play and fueled mainly by “sheer motivation,” Ruthie Heavrin’s script was finished.

“My roommates were still up, like always, playing a video game so their late night energy kept me going,” said Heavrin, a 2013 English graduate of La Sierra University, and whose last name is now Orozco.

Her play, penned in November 2011 for La Sierra’s first 24-Hour Play Festival was titled “A Modest Occupation.” It was a dark comedy that drew upon her experiences with local rallies linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Orozco and her team of actors and a director were among seven teams that year whose talented members stretched their creative energy to meet a deadline and win prizes. Orozco’s exhaustive efforts were duly awarded with a $500 first place writing prize decided by the Inland Theater League.

La Sierra’s drama students are once again gearing up for a long night of writing and re-writing and planning as the Society of Dramatic Arts prepares for a second 24-Hour Play Festival. The hard work culminates in a performance of plays Sun., Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. in Matheson Hall.

The festival officially gets underway Sat., Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. with participants gathered in Matheson to divide into teams of writers, actors, and directors by way of drawing names from a hat. They will kick start the creative process with a ‘prompt,’ a word or phrase connected to current events and given to them by drama director Marilynn Loveless. Around this theme they will churn their creative juices for 24 hours to produce and perform a 7-10 minute play. First, second and third place prizes of $500, $350 and $150 are at stake along with possible performance scholarships. The Inland Theater League will again adjudicate the event.

Following the prompt on Nov. 2, it’s up to the scriptwriters to burn the midnight oil and come up with a viable play by 6 a.m. the next morning. By 7 a.m. play directors will receive copies of the scripts. By 8 a.m. actors will receive scripts, and rehearsals will commence. Following lunch and more rehearsals, including a tech and dress rehearsal and a light supper, the students will bring the fruits of their time-crunched efforts to Matheson’s stage. All actors will be dressed in black and limited to props necessary to convey a time period or specific characteristic.

“It’s the most intensely creative and memorable experience that many of them will have in college,” said Loveless, an award-winning theater director and film screenplay writer. “Difficult deadlines can sharpen and focus creative energy. And the work world outside of academia is competitive, requiring collaboration with co-workers you may or may not know very well. In addition to impossible deadlines, the performing arts offer participants the opportunity to collaborate in creating an ephemeral moment in time, intersecting with fellow performers, a director, the technical and design crew, and the audience. There's nothing like it!”

A reprise of the 24-Hour Play Festival will be held Sun., Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. Ticket are $10 general admission. For further information and reservations call the box office at 951-785-2241 or email at drama@lasierra.edu.

  • Last update on  October 31, 2013