March 2, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 12

Play in a Day

Think you can write a play, organize and act in it? What if you had only 24 hours to pull the whole thing together?

Boston College students will take up that challenge later this month, and in so doing will benefit an area middle school, at the "24 Hour Theater Experiment" on March 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Devlin 008.

Teams of students will compete against each other by performing 10-15 minute plays that are original and have to be written in the 24 hours preceding the event. A panel of judges, made of established producers, directors and actors in the Boston area, will evaluate the performances and choose a winner.

All the proceeds from the event go to benefit Nativity Prep Middle School, which provides free education to students from low-income families in the Greater Boston area.

The competition is the brainchild of Matthew Porter '09, a theater and political science major from Lawrence. He knows this experiment will work because he's seen it done before.

"During my senior year at Boston College High, we did something very similar to this, and it was a lot of fun," he says. "When you put people under the gun like that, you can see some real creativity, and the raw elements of theater truly come to the fore."

So when the University's Shaw Leadership Program, of which Porter is a member, began mulling ideas for community service projects, he thought a benefit 24-hour theater experiment would fill the bill.

"We want to be able to help the kids at Nativity Prep, some of whom will be the next generation of BC students," says Porter, who got a helping hand from the Theater Department and the Office of Residential Life, among others, to organize the event. Judges include Paul Daigneault, producing artistic director of the Speak Easy Stage Company, Huntington Theater Literary Manager Ilana Brownstein and David Riggin, a local professional actor.

Porter says the event is open to non-theater students, and hopes to have 11 teams in all. Participants must register by March 15, and be ready to start creating their plays on the evening of March 24 - 24 hours before show time. Members of the winning team receive a trophy and a $50 gift certificate to White Mountain Cremery.

So what's to stop teams from getting a head start on working out their plays before the clock starts ticking? "People can certainly be planning and trying out things up until then," explains Porter, "but there will be a general theme which all the plays must be built around, and that won't be announced until the night before."

Admission to the event is $10, $7 with a BC ID. For more information on the "24-Hour Theater Experiment," contact Porter at ext.5-1412 or via e-mail at

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