If you’ve spent time on DramaTok — the acting one, not the tea one — recently, you’ve likely seen a lot of content about 24-hour plays. For those unfamiliar, a 24-hour play is when a group of performers, writers and producers have 24 hours to produce and perform an entire play. That means all props must be assembled, all costumes sourced, all lines practiced and memorized and every scene blocked within those 24 hours. This is of course a very rushed production process, involving all-nighters with occasional naps throughout and more than a few comedic mistakes in the performance. This idea seems to have originated from a group called The 24 Hour Plays, founded in 1995, who have been involved in many productions across multiple continents. And starting March 25, Duke musical theater performance group Hoof ‘n’ Horn will begin preparation for their 24-hour play – a version of High School Musical: The Musical – culminating in a performance at 8:00 p.m. March 26 in Brodie Theatre.
As Duke’s premier student-run musical theatre group — established in 1936 — Hoof ‘n’ Horn traditionally produces three musicals each year – in the fall, winter and spring respectively. But this year, a special collaboration with Duke’s Theatre Department to perform “Rent” in the Spring caused a gap in their programming. While this gap wasn’t long enough to produce a traditional musical, it could easily be filled by a shorter production. According to Hoof ‘N’ Horn Development Chair Jason Kreinberg, another executive team member had seen several DramaToks about the 24-hour play format and knew its short production process would be the perfect fit. The rest of the board agreed and recognized this format could also benefit Hoof 'n’ Horn in other ways, according to Kreinberg. As the first 24-hour play ever done by Hoof ‘n’ Horn – as far as Hoof n’ Horn knows — it would give them a chance to do something new. The novelty of it would draw new audience members while the short production process would let people who normally wouldn’t have the time for a Hoof ‘n’ Horn production be involved. This would in turn introduce new people to the arts at Duke – be it as actors or audience members. The new format would also push actors outside of their comfort zone, growing their confidence in themselves and abilities while offering a bonding opportunity.
Having chosen their format — which they slightly modified by choosing to tell performers their roles before the 24 hours begin, Hoof 'n’ Horn had to pick a musical. According to Kreinberg, an important factor guiding the process was that due to their club constitution, they could not perform musicals within six years of a previous production. This encouraged them to look outside their usual repertoire and at musicals they’d never otherwise perform, since they felt that 24 hours wouldn’t be enough time for one of their usual productions. Hoof 'n’ Horn also wanted a musical familiar to both the actors and the audience. For the actors, a familiar musical would smooth the production process. For the audience, there would be wider appeal and a chance for more engagement as the audience could know where the performers made mistakes. As the adoption of an incredibly popular and widely known Disney Movie “High School Musical: The Musical” was the perfect choice.
When asked why people should attend the show, Kreinberg gave three reasons: it will be a wild, novel experience and concept, the energy and vibes will be incredible and there will be hilarious mistakes and wonderful moments. For anyone looking to learn about or engage with the arts at Duke, attending this show is the perfect way to do so.
If you’re interested in attending, tickets can be purchased here for $6.50.
Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that this was the first 24-hour play at Duke. In 2014, Duke Asian American Theater performed a 24-hour play festival. The Chronicle regrets this error.
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Zev van Zanten is a Trinity sophomore and campus arts editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.