The 24-Hour Play Festival, organized each semester by Shakespeare on the Green, challenges writers, actors and producers to collaborate on bringing a theater production from script to stage within 24 hours. Five plays were performed at two Saturday evening shows in T.F. Green Hall.
The production process began on Friday when executive producers met with the five groups. Writers had from 7 p.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Saturday to compose their plays, SOTG executive producer Maddie Groff ’23 said.
Throughout the production, Groff and co-executive producer Hayden Deffarges ’25 wanted to make sure “the writers and the directors got to communicate as a pair about what they want the show to be and that the director has a good idea of the writer's vision,” Deffarges said.
The executive producers distributed an application to writers before production and were looking for “fun and creativity,” Deffarges said. Since the event is fast-paced, the executive producers wanted everyone involved to have a good time and keep “a lighthearted tone,” Groff added.
SOTG wanted to create “integrated” groups of writers, directors and actors, encouraging collaboration among people of all ages and levels of experience. “We like people who are seniors who have literally never acted before and are just doing this for fun, or people who just want to try it,” Groff said.
Actress Annie Stein ’24 said she thought the experience was “awesome because you can have had zero theater experience and just be like, ‘You know what, I'm going to try this and not be scared away by a massive time commitment.’ ”
Playwright Finn Blomquist Eggerling ’23.5 co-wrote one of the five plays. The 24-hour time-crunch forced Blomquist Eggerling to make decisions quickly, which put into perspective their priorities as a writer and playwright, they said.
Each team was asked to incorporate into their script a selection of prompts given by SOTG’s executive producers. Blomquist Eggerling’s prompt included the trope of a love triangle, a “betrayer” character and a disco ball prop. Stein described Blomquist Eggerling’s final script as a “crazy 4-H coming out story and drama comedy.”
Adam Meller ’25, who played a horse in a whodunit in which four horses investigate the murder of their jockey, said that the process of memorizing lines and choreography in such a short timeframe was “pretty stressful.” Still, “the community was so supportive,” he said.
Meller believed the production’s “accessibility and approachability allowed him to take the risk and try something” he might not have otherwise tried at Brown. “I think I learned a lot about what it means to rehearse as an actor,” he said, including “trusting in the fact that progress is possible and that practice does make you better.”
It was Stein’s acting debut, but she participated in last year’s festival as a writer. She described being “comfortable” writing, but noted that acting felt “good for my confidence, especially having so little time to prepare and then go up and put on a play.”
Groff emphasized that it was okay if actors did not have their scripts perfectly memorized because “the audience wants to watch you have fun and you can play into the fact that you learned (the script) today,” she said.
The 24-hour Play audience was “the most generous” you could have, Deffarges said. Audience member Meg Lorraine ’26 said she thought the plays were funny and McConnell Bristol ’26 said he could not have “imagined a better way to have spent that hour.”
Groff said she hopes audience members wanted “to participate in it themselves” and emphasized that “anyone who sees it in the fall can come and do it in the spring.”
“I think the cool thing about the 24-hour Play Festival is it’s not publicized until the day of the performances,” but the theater fills up anyway, Blomquist Eggerling said. Due to increased interest, the box office had to turn away some attendees, they added.
Groff and Deffarges expressed their hope that growing support from the Brown community could allow the festival to find a larger space that could accommodate more people. The next 24-Hour Play production is scheduled for next semester.
Additional reporting by Aalia Jagwani.