Annual 24-Hour Play Festival challenges thespians to flex creative muscle

Playwriting, directing and acting, all done within 24 hours? In a race against the clock, The Transit Theatre Troupe challenged student playwrights, directors and actors to create their best work for their annual 24-Hour Play Festival.

Hosted in Carter Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 21, the festival presented three original plays: “Memoriam,” “Frozen in Time” and “Wishful Thinking.”

Before the performances began, Co-Managing Director Nicole Davis welcomed an ecstatic audience.

“Around this time at 7 p.m. yesterday, there was nothing,” Davis said. “But now there are plays, so be prepared for a night of twist, turns and hard work.” 

Directed by Eva McNabb, “Memoriam” followed an engaged couple, Lenny (Thomas Quintanilla) and Eddie (Tav Trevino), who discuss the complications of their relationship while on a train. The play displayed a mixture of comedy through the outlandish Train Conductor (Lauren Graham), and tragedy through Eddie’s confession about his stage one dementia. 

When asked what inspired the mixture of the two, playwright Sierra Roy responded with, “It’s hard to put an audience in a really dramatic play; the Train Conductor brings perspective to the play because she just shows up during these really intense moments.”

“Frozen in Time” centered around Parker (Noah Sanchez) and his resented father (Rafael Murtinho), who he blames for his parents’ divorce. The play started off with a humorous back-and-forth conversation, but took an abrupt turn when Parker wished his dad was dead; and that’s what he got. The play ends with Parker stuck in this alternative world haunted by his wish.

Playwright Mackenzie Allen chose a twisted ending to emphasize how “the worst that you say has consequences.”

Director Katie McLoughlin used stage directions to “create a separation between the realism of the first half of the show and the other world we see in the second half.” 

The festival wrapped up with “Wishful Thinking,” a story about high school senior John (John Winkler), who seeks comfort from his comedic brother Louie (Louie Espinoza). Throughout the play, audience believed the big conflict to be John’s ineligibility to graduate, but within the last few lines the audience learned that the real problem for John is that Louie is actually dead.  

Playwright Annie Eldridge decided Louie’s fate before writing the actual script, but chose to save the big reveal for the end because her and director Mathias Dominguez II “liked the idea of revealing things to the audience.”

At the conclusion of the festival, the cast, playwrights and directors received a standing ovation from the audience; but all their credit went to the 14 student Transit officers who made this event possible.

“We do this to get art, in any form, out there,” began Marketing Manager Mykkaela Garcia. “24-Hour Play Festival gives us an opportunity to do art from every perspective–directors, writers, actors, crew, designers.”

At its core, this event gives students the opportunity to exercise their creative minds within a challenging time-slot. “We do this for everyone,” stated Garcia. “So you don’t need to particularly like acting; if you like writing, or if you like design aspects in some way, this is still for you.”