Plays are works of art that, under normal circumstances, take years to craft and perfect. But for the Kenai Performers and Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center’s 24-hour theater project, five groups of playwrights, directors, and performers will have the mere span of a day to write, rehearse, and perform their masterpieces.
Composed of one director, one playwright, and three actors, each group will meet to garner inspiration from the visitor center’s summer exhibit “Intersecting Journeys,” which uses art, history, and culture to depict how relationships between people and place coalesce here on the Peninsula.
“It’s a great way to extend the summer exhibit here at the KVCC because it’s just a reiteration of some of these ideas through a whole other art form,” said Laura Forbes, who works for the center and spearheaded the effort to launch the project.
After meeting either Thursday or Friday, the playwrights will have 12 hours to write their scripts, which are due Saturday morning (or Friday morning, for the Thursday group). After the scripts are turned in, the director and actors will come together to begin rehearsals on the five-to-15-minute presentations. Later in the day, they will have half an hour to scour the First Avenue Theatre for props and costumes.
At 7:30, it’s showtime.
“I think I’m going to be drinking a lot of coffee that night,” said playwright Rebecca Gilman, “but I think the exhibit will have a lot of great inspiration that I can draw from.”
Gilman is a theatre major at Notre Dame University and has participated in similar projects down at college before, but this will be the first time she has written a play specifically for a 24-hour theatre project.
“I just think it is a great opportunity that Kenai is taking a hold of; using all the talent that we have in the community,” she said.
Most people whose profession is not related to theatre don’t have four weeks or four months of time to put into a play, Forbes pointed out. By bringing something like the 24-hour project to the Peninsula, those casually interested in theatre can take advantage of the program and have fun for a weekend.
“I’m so happy Laura Forbes has taken the initiative to launch this project here on the Peninsula,” said seasoned actor Jamie Nelson. “I can already see what a wonderful job she has done assembling and organizing the required talents.”
Nelson participated in a 24-hour theatre project called “Alaska Overnighters” in Anchorage this past January. Put on by TBA Theatre and Three Wise Moose, the event presented similar tribulations to the ones Nelson will be facing this weekend.
“The day was challenging and rewarding,” he said of the previous experience. “The idea of birthing a story, developing characters to live it, and rehearsing a performable show all in less than one day requires great artistic discipline and teamwork.”
Forbes said she is encouraging playwrights to keep their scripts PG-13.
“You never know what someone is going to write,” Forbes said, “but we are trying to stay in that PG-13 range as far as the performance piece goes.”
The final products will be performed on Saturday, August 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. Admission to the event is $10. Due to the limited space and therefore limited seating at the center, Forbes urges people to purchase their tickets early.