24 Hour Plays: Lessons in Fear, Control, and Joy

Why dive into a creative process involving fear, anxiety, the unknown, the uncontrollable?

The payoff is incredible. 

This past weekend, my wife and I participated in an event called 24 Hour Plays. Here’s the rundown of the events that transpire in a mere day at one of these creative explosions:

It’s an exercise in organized insanity in which writers, directors, and actors put their skill sets to the test: writing a short play, casting the play, directing the play, and performing the play in the time span of a mere 24 hours.

+Perfectionism. Most creatives are prone to it. It’s rarely helpful. For some of us, it keeps us from ever producing or sharing our creation. Within the time frame of 24 hours, perfectionism cannot dominate. There’s just no time to belabour the minutiae.

Bye bye non-friend.

+ Camaraderie. My creative process at my job usually involves training people to sell remodeling products to homeowners. It is creative, but I didn’t realize how much I’d missed the process of putting up an actual show. I marveled at the fact that the pros we worked with all spoke the same language. We understood the basics of each of our job functions and treated one another with respect. There’s such pleasure in rubbing shoulders with other like-minded creatives.

+Fear. 24 Hour Plays is skydiving. My mind’s conversation with myself went something like this: “8:30 AM. Here’s your script that was just written last night. You’ll play James. We’ll rehearse it today, have it memorized tonight for the show. By the way, we’re sold out. There’s gonna be people here asking for a show. So you gotta get this right. Did I say it has to be memorized? It does. Have fun!” When my wife and I were deciding if we should/should not do this, we realized the only reason we wouldn’t do it was because we were terrified. Not a good enough reason. We’re so glad we pushed through that fear.

+Payoff. Rachel Stevens, a former producer of The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices summarizes it well.

You always see the most incredible personal and professional growth take place in the artists involved.  There’s great confidence to be taken from realising that, if you can do this project, you can do pretty much anything.

Agreed 100%.

I’d do this whole experience all over again for that very reason. It exhilarating to do something that, initially, seems impossible and slightly terrifying.

What’s stopping us from doing that thing we’ve always said we’d do? Why not push the envelope this week and write that piece, finish that project, or call that person?

Someone needs your creativity today.

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6 thoughts on “24 Hour Plays: Lessons in Fear, Control, and Joy

    • Yes, it’s fun to have both. The pressure is crazy and it’s always such a rush to get through it and realize it was all worth it. I’ll need a bit of random now to balance it all out!

  1. Pingback: 24 Hour Plays: One Producer’s Perspective (part 1) | Wood Stove House

  2. Wow, this sounds great – just the kind of environment where I think I really thrive. Yes I’d never really thought about how it tends to be a bit of fear and pressure that brings out the best in me because I go by the seat of my pants most of the time. I’m thinking about how I could build a little bit of this into my creative routines without it being a case of waiting until a few hours before a deadline.

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