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Gonzo Theater

WAM Theatre plus MOPCO plus 24 hours equals . . .

by James Yeara on May 15, 2013


They’re all locked in the room with no means of communicating with the outside. Only one man knows their specific purpose. Everyone else knows they’re desperate to do something, with someone, somewhere. Some have been brought in from many hours and miles away, while others came in from nearby streets: they’re hopeful, anxious, even a little afraid, but fear is good. Fear can be worked with, while ennui, apathy, entitlement leads to disaster. All they know for certain is that in 24 hours it’ll all come to an abrupt end. Finished. Game over.

The plot of the next Tom Cruise blockbuster? Fast & Furious 7? The latest Fox News outraged conspiracy du jour? The Fate of Theon Greyjoy?


It’s the 3rd Annual 24 Hour Berkshires/Capital Region Theatre Project hosted by Proctors, culminating with a public performance of five short works on Saturday (May 18) at 8 PM. And it’s all presented by the Berkshire-based WAM Theatre and MOPCO in a 24-hour “slam-bam-thank you ma’am” fashion, starting with a locked-in group meeting of actors, playwrights, directors, producers, caterers, designers, secret agents, composers, stage managers, zombies, and dressers on Friday (May 17) at 7 PM. 57 co-creators enter, thrilling entertainment emerges 24 hours later. The fusion of talents and spontaneity is so great that the event was recently moved from the scheduled GE Theater at Proctors to the more state of the art John Sayles School of the Fine Arts at Schenectady High School (1445 The Plaza, Schenectady).

In a flurry of e-mails, Kat Koppet, Co-Director of MOPCO, shared the names of the megabyte directing talent helming this year’s as-yet-to-be-created one acts:

“Directing this year are Tony nominated actress Jayne Atkinson (TV’s House of Cards and 24), Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill (Capital Repertory Theatre), Dina Janis (Dorset Theatre Festival), Kristen van Ginhoven (WAM Theatre), and Michael Burns (MOPCO). While we are not connected with other 24 hour productions in NYC, our version specifically intends to be a chance for artists from the two regions to get to know each other better, as well as a chance to mate improv and scripted theatre to achieve the best of both worlds. I believe ours is especially pure and improvisationally influenced compared to some others.”

Koppett also fleshed out the intimate details of the locking in ritual:

“All the artists meet at 7 PM on Friday night. We play some getting to know each other games. Then match playwrights and directors randomly by having the playwrights’ pull a director’s name out of a hat. Then the directors pull stage managers, the SM’s pull a number (3-5) which is how many actors the playwright will have. Then the SM picks that number of actor names out of a hat. So yes, the selection is random.

Once the selection is done, the playwrights are given a ‘prompt’ (a line of dialogue, a theme) to influence their plays (this year by Mark Fleischer from Adirondack Theatre Festival, who is our dramaturge and managing director on the day). I don’t know what this year’s prompt or theme will be because I’m writing and it’s secret. The playwrights spend about 15 minutes getting to know their actors and directors and then go off and write (starting around 9 PM). Their scripts are due at 7 AM. From then till the show goes up Saturday night at 8 PM, it’s rehearse, rehearse, rehears; so yeah, pretty darn close to 24 hours of creation time, if you measure by when the playwrights start writing.”

Koppett concluded with, “One of the glorious and amazing things about this project is how playfully and supportively folks work together. It could be awful and stressful, but so far everyone has reported having a great time—even the folks who come with some fear.”

Surprises and a splendid time are guaranteed for all, whether it’s zombies, Norse gods, spies, or star-struck producers at the place beyond the pines who end up on the stage.

For tickets (which are $20, $15 students) and info, call the Proctors box office at 346-6204.