Slight Preface: A Day 2 Play is a competition held by the University of Canterbury Drama Society (Dramasoc) where a small team of five have 24 hours to write, direct, rehearse and perform a 15-minute play. I signed on as a writer (Of course), which meant I had 12 insomnia-inducing hours of writing a script that was 15 minutes in length using what I was given. Although it has been a few weeks since then, here is what I remember of that night.
6 pm: Slightly panic because the bus is late, and wonder if I can get there in time. When I get on, accidentally sit behind the most sickeningly in love couple1. Get there in time, talk to a few people. The people who are supposed to be telling us everything are late. They get there late and we are divided up into teams. I meet the girl who would quickly become a close friend. We are told the rules and given sealed envelopes which contain a prop, a line and a situation we must use.
7 pm: Open the envelopes, where we find out what we have to use:
- Our line: “Well that could’ve gone worse.
Our situation: A very awkward encounter.
Our Prop: Eclipse.
… Eclipse? What the hell is that? My mind starts formulating ideas: Could I somehow make a Berserk parody2? And then we find out. Twilight: Eclipse. The terrible book. So, of course, there’s no way we could make a good, serious play with that. Which means that after we are ushered out to our own rooms terrible jokes and scripts are made. It soon became a goal of wondering how much cringe we could fit into 15 minutes.
8 pm: A basic plot idea is established, and then the rest of my team leave me alone to write a basic outline while they get pizza (No objections). I was left with a Surface Pro to work with, and I have to say it wasn’t too bad, although I found the keyboard somewhat uncomfortable for my style of typing. The managers of the event come in and find that I’ve been left alone, which leaves them furious. My team comes back about 50 minutes later, get a talking to about leaving me alone, but then we get pizza and begin to work on our ideas.
We eventually establish our rough plot outline: During Orientation Week at Canterbury University3, a drunken student finds a sheet of paper with Eclipse, and thinking that it is a massive party sets out on a quest to find just exactly where Eclipse is. Turns out it is just a book signing of the new book by Stephanie Meyer (Who ended up being played by me… somehow. Which was also slightly meta because I was the writer of this play who sets the protagonist off on her quest and the writer in the play who sets the protagonist on her quest.).
9 pm: I begin to head home. End up nearly going the wrong way. I see some guy walking in full black across a field and all I can think of is “Not today.”, before turning around. Get on the bus and miss my stop because I was so lost in thought thinking what the hell I’m gonna write in about ten hours. One of them being some narrative in which the main character is given a bag for some reason (Which I later worked into the storyline). Get home and have dinner, talk to my friends for a bit, see that everyone’s drinking, make some coffee, retreat to my room, open a new Scrivener screenplay project just for the play and get to working on it. Get significant anxiety as to how I’ll be actually able to finish this script in time. Wash it down with copious amounts of coffee and lemonade.
10 pm: Get a Facebook Messenger call from the other guys in my team on some of the other ideas. One of them being the introduction of some conflict: An ex-boyfriend policeman character for the main characters lover person.
11 pm – 2 am: Writing haze as I get everything set up right. Ignore the ex-boyfriend character for now because I’m not sure how to slot him in.
3 am: Not feeling tired because I made sure not to wake up until 1 pm, and I’ve drunk plenty of coffee in the meantime. Figure out how to fit the ex-boyfriend character in: make him arrest the main character for ‘littering’ a hair outside a hospital. As the whole play had some Twilight themed characters ( the main character was Edward, the lover was Isabella, the ex was Jacob) I made it that he thought he was a wolf. It’s the kinda stuff you get at 3 am when you’re caffeinated and stressed. Feel for the first time that I might actually get this script done in time and of an appropriate length.
4 am: Finish off the first draft of the script, title it, put the synopsis, characters and settings in, send it to everyone else, relax on Lainchan.
5 am: The others wake up and start giving me their
criticism feedback on what I’ve written, which I fix up. Reorder scenes to make it make sense, and rename some of the characters.
6 am: Finish the script, send it off, turn the lights off and go to sleep. Well, watch a few videos on my phone first.
7 am: Finally fall into a blissful sleep.
1 pm: Wake up, have a shower, have breakfast.
3 pm: Finally get on the bus, wonder just how much the
idiots other people in my team had ruined adapted my script. Get there at 3:30, walk through the rain. Learn that while I was sleeping they established the characters: An Indian guy will play a Soviet Russian professor, the only girl will play the lead, the guy with the deepest voice will play the girlfriend of the lead, and one guy will play four different characters. Apparently, they loved my little bit about the wolf. I’m told I’ll be Stephanie Meyer, and I’m put in a flowing pink skirt (Over my jeans).
4 pm: Rehearse, rehearse, revise, rehearse. Send a fixed version of the script off. Told I’ll be the sound manager, which was slightly terrifying at first but it soon mellowed out once I found how easy and short each song was.
7 pm: Get there, get ready. Buy a coke and talk to the other groups to see just what they’re doing. Get setup on stage and do a few practice twirls in my skirt to see what it’s like (This is important).
7:15 pm: Watch the first groups play, it’s nothing special.
7:45 pm We’re up. It’s going time. I manage the sound while I see just how much cringe they can perform. Sounds easy enough to do, just gotta watch for the cues. One of the managers of the event is just cringing and looking at his phone, the other one is just laughing so hard, telling me how solid a writer I am. When it’s finally time to enter the stage I do the perfect twirl, a little laugh. Fortunately, I have no speaking lines, and the biggest thing I did was give the finger as I walked off stage.
8:15 pm: I’m fairly confident that we did better than the last guys, but then the other group step up and absolutely floor us, which I suspect is that they never even pretend the fourth wall existed in first place. I resigned to defeat in face of how well written their play is.
8:45 pm: Winners are announced, our director wins the best director but mostly for his terribly excellent Russian accent. Of course, the last team won for their excellent play. I talk a little with the winners, especially the writer.
9 pm: I get home, have dinner, and go to sleep early because I thought I had a math test the next day. Turns out I didn’t.
Looking back on this event, it was fun as hell. I may have lost, but given what I was working with (Eclipse book) and that this was the first stage play I had ever written, I am quite happy with the result. I made people laugh, cringe, and all around have a good time. It’s the most I can do with what I was given.
- Randomly kissing each other, hugging, resting their heads in each other’s laps. ↩
- For my own writings on Berserk, see my editorial on Dragonslayer and my recently published post on why Griffith has good character traits. ↩
- Which is filled with a lot of partying and very little study (Perfect way to get university students in the study mood.) Events this year included: Toga party, Mardi Gra’s, hypnotists, and a foam party. ↩