MAT play festival starts Friday

MAT play festival starts Friday

Jay Pyette

November 14, 2019, by Rachel Jamieson, Havre Daily News

The drawings for the third annual Montana Actors Theatre’ 24-Hour Play Festival is set for Friday in Viszla Brewing followed by playwriting and rehearsals with the productions Saturday at The Little Theatre in Montana State University-Northern’s Cowan Hall.

“What it is, you get a bunch of writers, a bunch of directors and a bunch of actors and you give them 24 hours — they have to build a play and perform it,” MAT artistic director Grant Olson said.

“So the night of the drawing, which is Friday night, we have all the directors’, actors’, writers’ (names) in buckets and you match up one writer and one director with an equal number of actors, which depends on how many actors we have,” MAT marketing director Andi Daniel said. “The other part of it is, we have five headlines and we draw one headline and everybody has to incorporate that headline as a line of dialogue into the play they are writing.”

The drawing will be Friday evening at 7 at Vizsla Brewing.

Olson added that the writers have from 8 p.m. Friday night to Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to write the script and give it to the director.

Daniel said they are doing something new this year additional to the headline — a drawing will be held on what genre each group will be performing as well as asking for tech help.

“That’ll help kind of shape it so people won’t have a prewritten script already done,” Olson said.

Daniel said that for the writers this production is a great place to start, as they should be writing a 15-20 minute play.

“If somebody is interested in writing, even though this has a 12-hour deadline on it, you don’t have to think about writing two hours’ worth of play, you got 15 minutes,” she said. “First year, I directed, and last year, I ran logistics and stuff, and that’s what I’m doing this year, too. I’m organizing everything instead of participating in it.”

Olson said that 24-hour plays are pretty popular across the country, and he first discovered them when he was in Missoula in 2007. He directed a play in one of the festivals at the Crystal Theatre.

Two productions from last year’s 24-hour play festival have gone past the festival itself. Rachel Dean’s play “Ticked Off” was featured in the Montana Short Cuts portion of Helena’s Last Chance Play Festival and will be showcased during this MAT season in March and Mark Cichosz presented his play “It’s Time” at this year’s Suicide Awareness Walk.

“The plays have more life than just those 24 hours,” Olson said. “Sometimes that’s all they need is the 24 hours and sometimes you see little glimpses of like, ‘Oh, this could turn into a full-length play.’”

“I think it’s a really great way for people to get involved without very much commitment. When you audition for a show, now you have eight weeks of rehearsal and three weeks of show and all of that, but this ends up being more than 24 hours, but not much,” Daniel said.

Olson added that the intensity of the production is great because the reality of theater is that people are always pushing against a deadline where, in the festival, people get the whole rehearsal process in a day, which he said is awesome.

Tickets for the production are $15 for adults, $10 for students, seniors and members of the military and free to Northern students with a valid ID.

The show starts Saturday at 8 p.m and the backstage lounge opens at 7:30 p.m.

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