HPC goes from casting to curtains in 24 hours

A beat-by-beat recount of the making of this semester's 24 Hour Theater production

If you’re a theater lover on campus, you’ve heard of the Hinman Production Company (HPC), best known for their conventional performances, which range from “Hair” to “The Laramie Project.” For the last few semesters, however, they’ve also been doing something a little more … unorthodox. It’s called 24-Hour Theater.

Daniel O'Connor/Staff Photographer

The basic premise is very simple. A theme and setting are randomly selected from a list, to ensure there is no prior preparation. Then, the group has 24 hours to find costumes, build a set, write a show that fits the selected parameters and perform it in front of an audience.

Jordan Gagnon, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, is the co-event coordinator of 24-Hour Theater. A veteran to the 24-hour style, Gagnon was one of the founders of this HPC tradition, which started in 2012.

“It’s chaos, but a controlled chaos and a good chaos,” Gagnon said.

The 40 students who signed up for 24-Hour Theater know they’re entering a realm of high-pressure theater, intense group bonding and sleep deprivation. Here’s a play-by-play of this year’s 24-Hour Theater production, from first brainstorms to curtain call.

Friday 7 p.m.

The timer is set, and the countdown begins promptly. The theme is a bachelorette party, the setting is an enchanted forest. There is excitement in the room, and after a motivational huddle, the group members split up into their different job assignments: writing, acting and tech.

Friday 11:36 p.m.

After four hours of work, the writers have finally etched out a basic plotline for the show. The character list has been established. Tech is making progress with the set, and everybody’s a painter. Most people should be using this time to rest, but everyone is too excited to sleep.

Saturday 2:47 a.m.

The classroom floors are freezing, keeping most of the group awake. There’s a motivational pep talk, but the members are no doubt dying for a nice warm bed. The writers are putting the finishing touches on the script.

Saturday 4:29 a.m.

The writers and actors perform their first read-through of the show. Prognosis: Positive.

Saturday 6 a.m.

Bagels are shared among the members, and the group collectively watches the sun rise. It’s the dawn of a new day, and a reminder that there is still very much to do before the sun goes down yet again.

Saturday 7:32 a.m.

With the bulk of their responsibility gone, the writers are taking a well-deserved nap, trying to be as efficient as they can with the limited couches and cushions.

Saturday 8:32 a.m.

After a night of practicing their lines, the actors have finally moved onto the stage. Delirious from a mostly sleepless night, the actors are beginning to mumble incoherent thoughts. This lends itself to undue laughter and hysteria. They have to pull themselves together if they’re going to make it to showtime. Tech continues to work diligently arranging the set.

Saturday 10:14 a.m.

The actors have had their first full stumble through the play. They are dismissed to get some much needed sleep. While those local to Hinman College return to their dorms for a more comfortable slumber, others take to the cold hard floors once again.

Saturday 12:08 p.m.

Tech gathers costumes while others flock to open dining halls. Hopefully some Sodexo will help them make it through the rest of the day, but it’ll probably just make them have to use the bathroom.

Saturday 1:16 p.m.

The writers head back to work to write a song for the end of the show. Tech is still rounding up the costumes. Actors are running through the play again, referring to the scripts as little as possible.

Saturday 7 p.m.

It’s been a full 24 hours. People are waiting inside Hinman’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for the show to begin. What was a workshop a mere 24 hours ago has now been transformed into a rough theater. The seats are all filled, forcing some of the latecomers to sit on the floor. The show will be performed twice at 7 and 8 p.m., and it’s free.

Saturday 7:48 p.m.

The end result was a show titled “Loose Ends,” a mature take on everyone’s favorite Disney princesses. From drunk, divorced, Cinderella to gay Jafar, the show was a wild take on Princess Jasmine’s bachelorette party on the night before her wedding. While some scenes were definitely stronger than others, the audience had to keep in mind that the group only had 24 hours to coordinate the entire production. Despite the occasional hiccup, the 48-minute show was enjoyed by all, delivering a laugh-out-loud performance.