POSTED ON MARCH 6, 2013:
All Day, All Night
Deadline delight among performance offerings
It sounds like a setup from Who's Line Is It, Anyway? Here's the first line of your play. Here's the last line. Here's one prop that you have to use. The play opens in 24 hours. On your mark. Get set. Go.
The 24-Hour Play Festival isn't an exercise in improv, though. Rather, it's a creative effort with far-reaching benefits, according to festival director Chris Martin.
"I just think that new work is so important," he said. "Classic work is important, and other plays are important, but I think it's great to give writers an opportunity to write and work."
While each group in the festival puts on a play that is a team effort, the burden is on the writer, so Martin feels like the lion's share of the benefits of participating go to them, as well.
"Maybe they write something great, or maybe they write something that sucks, but they can say, 'Hey, I wrote something that sucks, and I have a better idea of what works and doesn't work,'" he said.
Basically, how it works is like this: participating groups show up Friday night. Each group gets the first and last line of the show they're about to create, as well as an assigned prop and the rules that go with it. Then they have until 7:30pm Saturday to write, rehearse, stage, and perform a 10-minute play.
"Each group needs to consist of a director, a playwright, and however many actors they want," Martin explained. "We'll all meet Friday at the Performing Arts Center, and they'll be given a prop and instructions on how the prop is to be used. For example, if they were given a tube of Chapstick, it might say, 'Every character in your play has to use this Chapstick,' or a candy bar, and 'Everyone in the play is afraid of the candy bar.'"
Martin said that sometimes, an entire group will stick around for a bit after the lines and props are handed out, but that the bulk of the first 12 hours is shouldered by each group's writer. "When the groups meet, they'll talk about a potential plot idea, but for the most part, the playwrights work all night and then go home and rest," he said.
To be honest, that sounds like the most fun part.
LA FEMME SHOU SHOU BY CINDY PARSONS
"We'll stay up all night writing and eating, and then the next morning, the actors show up, and it's up to them how elaborate they want the details of their play to be, like set and costumes," he said. "They rehearse all day, and then there's the curtain at 7:30pm."
Perhaps the most daunting thing for the writer seems to be the time limit attached to the actual script, because the 10-minute rule is just that -- a rule, and not a suggestion.
And here's the kicker.
"That's part of the judging criteria -- is the play under 10 minutes? At the 10-minute mark, the lights will fade to black, so they have to get this done," he said.
So since it's a judged festival, there will be a winner and prizes, though nothing like a prestigious Oscar or anything like that.
"I thought it would be a really cool idea this year for the prizes to be ridiculous, like Gong Show, Let's Make a Deal prizes, like a lifetime supply of paper clips or a basil plant. We're still ironing that out," Martin said.After nearly a half-decade of 24-hour-festival-ing at a local church, Martin moved his project downtown.
Anyone connected with the Tulsa theatre community and its audience members knows that getting theatergoers to come see a show that's not at the PAC is a challenge, so this move will almost certainly help the festival as it continues to grow.
"In the past few years, we started seeing more community involvement," he said. "It's hard to get community involvement not because of a lack of interest, but because there's just so much theater around."
Still, that increased involvement has aided in the festival's evolution.
"This year, the majority of the groups are community groups," Martin said. Playhouse Tulsa presents Tulsa's Fourth Annual 24-Hour Play Festival on Saturday, March 9 at 7:30pm in the Liddy Doenges Theater downtown at the Performing Arts Center. General admission tickets are $15, and are available at the Second Street box office, by phone at 918-596-7111, or through myticketoffice.com.
There are those who will say that Stephen Sondheim is the greatest composer of musicals who ever drew breath. And there are those that say he's pretty good. There aren't many who say he sucks.
You can see why this coming weekend as Tulsa Community College presents A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, one of Sondheim's many, many hits from the same mind that gave us music and/or lyrics to West Side Story, Gypsy, Into the Woods, and the sort of odd Assassins.
The show itself is a really, really funny farce set in ancient Rome and featuring the adventures of Pseudolus, a slave in pursuit of winning, buying, or stealing his freedom. There are all sorts of Shakespeare-style misunderstandings, there's "Comedy Tonight," and there's lots of wackiness. And shrews and virgins and prostitutes.
But it's not just a fun show. Director Lisa Stefanic said that the whole project is a learning and mentoring opportunity for the TCC students.
"We started doing these large musicals in maybe 2003 when we first did Fiddler," she said. "We're so fortunate to have Dr. Barry Epperly conducting in the pit, and we have Signature Symphony musicians and TCC students playing," she said. "It's a big mentoring program. Most of these kids won't get the chance to be in this big of a show with a full orchestra and all these sets. We try to present them with this opportunity. They kind of understand that this is a really great opportunity for them, but they can't really understand, because they haven't been out there."
How the mentoring aspect works, according to Stefanic, is by relying heavily on professionals for the behind-the-scenes work, and by having the students shadow them throughout the production.
"On Wednesday nights, we had crew night, which was a challenge when it came to scheduling rehearsals," she said. What crew night entailed, basically, was sending every TCC student involved with the show to the set and costume shops to help create the items needed for the show.
"For Forum, especially, it works well, because it's a massive set," she said. "There's a lot to build and a lot to paint. Everybody is building in and sewing, and it builds a team. This is a really good ensemble."
It should be, if for no other reason than to honor the sets and costumes of Randy Blair, who has been a gift to Tulsa theater since the earth's crust was still cooling.
"Randy had just retired from teaching last spring, but when it was decided that we were doing Forum and I was directing, I said, 'I'm not going to leave you alone until you tell me you'll be a guest artist," Stefanic said. "I pestered him, and the dean went to him, and he cratered pretty quick, so we've got a fabulous set and great costumes."
While Forum opened last week, there are four shows remaining at the Van Trease Performing Arts Center for Education at 81st and Highway 169, running Thursday through Saturday, March 7-9, at 7:30pm with a Sunday matinee at 2:00pm. Tickets are $12 with discounts for students and seniors, and are available in person at the Van Trease PACE, by phone at 918-595-7777 between 10:00am and 6:00pm, or online at myticketoffice.com.
This art exhibit, featuring a pair of Tulsa-area artists, focuses on women.
Karin Cermak uses a contemporary style that will be relatively new to those familiar with her work, which in the past has been quite realistic. Cindy Parsons works mostly in oil, acrylic, and charcoal media, and contributes her award-winnign work to the gallery, as well.
While women figure largely in the subject matter of many of the works, the real stars here are the bright colors, hence the exhibition's name.
Bright Palette will be on display in the PAC Gallery through the end of this month between the hours of 10:00am and 5:30pm and during Chapman Music Hall events. Admission is free.
If you've spent any length of time at Arnie's, the most Irish of bars not actually located in Ireland, you've probably heard the music of this group of musicians who play what they refer to as O'kie Irish music.
And you don't need a musicology degree to hear that what they're doing is just as Irish as all get-out.
Cairde na Gael stops in at the Kathleen Westby Pavilion AT THE TULSA PAC for a lunch-hour set on Wednesday, March 13 at 12:10pm.
It's free, it's fun, and you'd much rather do this than work through yet another lunch hour. You know I'm right.
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