24-Hour Theater: A Memorable, Compact Experiment in Creativity

By L. Gail Irwin

An evil laboratory scientist, a support group for the Undead, and a guidance counselor obsessed with Subway sandwiches were among the characters created and staged at the first ever “24 Hour Theater” event organized by Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. in early October. 

In my busy schedule, 24 Hour Theater was perfect! The compact, mixed age experiment in creativity and improvisation felt like a grown-up play date with a bunch of friendly strangers. The fact that it was free and open to all ages made it accessible to anyone with the guts to try it, regardless of experience. Ten people decided to do just that.

Ranging in age from 15 to 65, we showed up at the Nancy Byng Community Theater on a Friday night to write, direct and stage six short plays under the quiet, accomplished direction of Mike Eserkaln, ASPI director and owner of ComedyCity De Pere. 

Participants volunteered to write, direct and/or act in short plays that had not been written yet.  After doling out writing assignments using prompts from random Wikipedia articles, the writers went home (or to Denny’s) to write our plays into the wee hours of the morning. 

Early on Saturday, we were back at the theater with plays in hand to cast roles, dig up costumes and props and block out our plays, all while sneaking in time to memorize lines.  By 7 p.m. we were ready to perform for a small but loyal audience of grandmas, spouses and children. 

Thanks to Mike Eserkaln and Brigette Finger of ASPI and my fellow actors and writers for creating this great memory! I hope to spend another exhilarating, yet exhausting, 24 hours with you again!

24 Hour theater