Time-limited theater teaches students teamwork

Theatre arts students perform during a previous year's "The 24 Hour Plays." Photo: Gabriel Szajnert for the University of Miami

By Amanda M. Perez

Theatre arts students perform during a previous year's "The 24 Hour Plays." Photo: Gabriel Szajnert for the University of Miami

Time-limited theater teaches students teamwork

By Amanda M. Perez
University of Miami theatre arts students and faculty members come together for a whirlwind day to create plays that are written, rehearsed, technologically produced, and performed in a span of 24 consecutive hours.

The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre is putting on a show—but it is unlike any other. The production, which is called “The 24 Hour Plays: University of Miami,” is filled with spontaneity, intrigue, and raw theater at its finest.

“The concept of this show is for student artists to come together within the span of one day to create unique pieces of theater out of nothing but their own creativity, risk taking, and force of will—through teamwork,” said Darren Blaney, lecturer, co-producer, and artistic director of the productions.

This year, two student directors and four faculty directors will work with 24 actors and seven producers to bring to life the vision of six student playwrights. Starting on Saturday night, the students will team up in groups to put together 10-minute pieces that will be performed Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at the Ring Theatre. Blaney admits that it seems slightly crazy, but all involved have a good time pulling shows together in a short amount of time.

“The experience emphasizes the element of teamwork and the element of risk in live theater that I think resonates with audiences,” he said. “I think people like to see creative artists working together for the sake of bringing a vision to life.”

Nicole Delsack—a senior musical theatre major—is looking forward to her second year in a row as a playwright.

“I found that I had a lot of success when I came in with an open mind and a lot of sleep beforehand,” she said. Delsack also thinks that opportunities like this will help her develop skills to carry to the real world.

“Oftentimes, in auditions, we have to collaborate and learn a scene very quickly with people we don’t know. I think this is a great opportunity to work on our communication skills and come together with other people we usually don’t interact with to create something strong,” said Delsack.

Another senior who is a theatre arts major, Joel Castillo, also will be a playwright. He said he is going to use this experience as a chance to learn something new.

“This will provide on-the-spot, problem-solving skills that I can apply to future jobs. It’s good to have something like this on your résumé, because it shows you are capable of solving problems on the fly in a creative and artistic way,” said Castillo. 

Pablo Souki, a senior lecturer and production manager for the Ring Theatre, believes this is a way for students to apply techniques they have learned in class.

“It’s a great way to figure out if you can put into practice the skills you’ve been learning without having all the time in the world,” Souki said. “My hope is that students take something from this process that they can apply to their future careers.”

Blaney urges students to listen to their heart and to trust their own vision.

“They have excellent training at UM already, so they have a lot of skill and craft to bring to the process,” he added. “For audience members, this show will provide an exciting way to see the theater community in action. In theater, there’s really no such thing as a one-person show.”

The 24 Hour Plays: Jerry Herman Ring Theatre at the University of Miami, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.