On your marks. Get set. Go! 'The 24-Hour Project'
"Who doesn't like a challenge?"
Erin Feeney's sentiment embodies the spirit behind the Niagara University Theatre Department's "24-Hour Project."
The event is exactly what the title implies. Student volunteers are split into work groups, and then given 24 hours to create a short play. In the past, a theme was given the night before the performance, and then each group would work that theme to their whim. However, Nick Lama, senior theater major and coordinator of this year's project, says that this isn't the case for 2010.
"What's different this year compared to previous years, is that before there used to be one major central theme. This year, I'm getting a program of six shows going, with each show having a different theme," Lama said.
This flexibility of theme gives students a little more leeway with their plays, which helps to strengthen the core of the project. Matthew Chavez, an NU theater alumnus, said that's what he enjoyed most about the production.
"It gave me a chance to say something," Chavez said. "I learned a lot about what matters to me: politics, relationships, comedy. I'm not sure I would have ever considered myself a writer if I hadn't started with the ˜24-Hour Project.'"
This will be the sixth year of the "24-Hour Project" at Niagara University, and the response to the program from those involved is incredibly positive - even if it does seem to be a challenge.
"It seems so impossible when 7:30 hits on Friday," said Jamie Nablo, a sophomore theater major. "Then, all of a sudden, you have a memorized, original show on stage in front of an audience. It's an incredible experience all the way around."
Some times it doesn't even have to be a play that comes out of the mix.
Steven E. Sitzman, a senior theater major, wasn't about to settle for writing a play.
"I wrote a musical last year - ˜Footed Pajamas: A Short Musical.' I am gonna write another this semester. It's great, because I will be involved from the conception up through performance, where I will play the instrumentations."
Aside from the fun and pressure of writing, memorizing and performing an original script all in 24 hours, the overall consensus is that this is an excellent learning experience. Casey Moyer, junior theater student, said, "When I was stage managing last year for the ˜24-Hour Project,' I learned a ton, and only in one day! It was amazing to see a full production morph and develop over such a short period of time."
Cait Holland, senior theater major, thought it could almost be more than that. "I got to work with people I otherwise wouldn't have worked with. I got to play a role I normally wouldn't have been given. Overall, I was given the chance to expand myself and challenge myself as an actress."
The curtain goes up on this year's "24-Hour Project" at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, at the Theatre-at-the-Church at 415 Plain St., Lewiston. Tickets will be sold at the door for $5, or they can be purchased online at www.niagara.edu/theatre. Each NU student, if seats are available, may get their ticket free of charge at the door upon presenting their NU student ID card.