For most college students, the idea of an all-nighter brings to mind images of books and papers spread across a desk, studying hard for a big test. But for one group of students, staying up all night writing is a special event.
For four years now, Oklahoma Christian University has held 24 Hour Theater, and the activity is much like the name sounds: students write, direct, practice and perform five plays in a span of 24 hours.
“It’s kind of like a you don’t want to miss it kind of production,” Producer of 24 Hour Theater and sophomore Luke Mawhirter said. “It raises the stakes of a normal play – makes it a little more exciting.”
Phil Reagan, associate professor of communications and theater, is overseeing the event.
“We’ve had really bizarre, wild, strange, crazy and we’ve had just very funny scripts that have been performed,” Reagan said.
Writers will gather together in Judd Theater at 9 p.m. Friday to receive prompts and a theme (typically a Bible verse), and will write until 7 a.m. on Saturday.
“The idea is to see what people can come up with very quickly in a creative environment and how the director and actors can take that and turn it into something stage-worthy in a short amount of time,” Reagan said.
After the writers complete their scripts, judges will chose the five best for the directors to work with.
At 8 a.m., the student directors will pick a script and then blindly cast the performance. Each play will have no more than five actors, but can have as few as one character.
From there, the groups split up throughout the Garvey Center and practice for 12 hours until they perform at 8 p.m.
According to Reagan, once the performers are ready to go on, there’s no telling what to expect.
“Just watching it, getting a chance to see the works up, it’s so different from reading it on the page, it comes alive and it’s so much fun,” Reagan said. “We had one a couple years ago that just turned into a hip-hop musical… it was just hilarious, it was really great.”
Reagan said he has seen everything from a one-person act to one person playing multiple roles.
“I think the most exciting part is that I have absolutely no idea what the show is going to be like,” Mawhirter said. “As a person who loves planning, it’s a little nerve-wracking but also exciting.”
At the end of the performance, audience members vote for first, second and third place, ranking the five plays. The winners receive a monetary prize.
The final production occurs on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in Judd Theater. Students, faculty and staff get in free with their Oklahoma Christian ID, members of the community must buy tickets at the box office directly before the performance.