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All in a day's work

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All in a day's work (Photo courtesy of Ten Bucks Theatre Company/Facebook)

EDDINGTON Eight never-before-seen plays hit the stage at Comins Hall in Eddington last weekend as part of the annual 24-Hour Play Festival put on by Ten Bucks Theatre Company.

The event which served as a fundraiser for the hall brought together some 50 talented people who shared their love of the theater and teamed up to present a wide variety of brand-new short plays.

The way it works is fairly simple. In the weeks prior to the event, people signed up to participate. They were asked to indicate their preferences with regards to the capacity in which they would like to take part; playwrights, directors and actors were all needed. At around 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, all involved descended on Comins Hall to meet as one group for the very first time.

From there, they were split into groups each group featured a playwright, a director and a number of performers. From there, each group was left to discuss and brainstorm possible ideas for a play. After a few hours of said discussion, the playwrights were left to return home and write their script a script that needed to be done by the next morning.

After a number of no-doubt sleepless nights, the groups reconvened at the hall on Saturday morning. There, they would spend the day rehearsing with their still-evolving scripts, editing and tweaking as they went. With just handful of actual stage minutes allotted to each group, every free space in the hall was devoted to the rapid development of these shiny new plays.

And then at 7 p.m. just one day after coming together for the first time this group put on a show. Eight shows, to be exact.

There was a show about a driving school for the stupid and one about a couple of youngsters hoping to use dance to impress their respective crushes. There was a peek behind the door of the teachers' lounge and a surreal trip to a funeral parlor. We spent some time in a bar for fairy tale princesses and paid a visit to Limbo. We saw friends catch up over wine and a young girl rebel against her clown heritage.

There were laughs both subtle and broad, with clever jokes and slapstick absurdity all up and down the lineup. While these were primarily staged readings (though a few brave souls managed to make a go of it without scripts in hand) with bare-bones table-and-chairs sets, they still managed to be engaging and effective. And the scope of the thing! Seeing these eight pieces as the end result of just one day's work was incredibly impressive.

But in the end, what's most impressive is the passion. These people, whether they wrote or directed or starred, all put their love of the theater on full display. Even more than the relative quality of the pieces themselves, that joy was what made the night a true success both on the stage and off it.

Kudos to Ten Bucks Theatre Company and folks like Padraic Harrison, Moira Beale, Katrina Dresser, Sue Dunham Shane and Bruce Pratt not to mention the dozens of writers, directors and performers for creating and sustaining such a wonderful event. As someone who considers himself a patron of the theater, I'm embarrassed to admit that this was my first time in attendance at the 24-Hour Play Festival.

But it certainly won't be my last.

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