Sixth Annual 24-Hour Play Festival

On January 5th and 6th, Vermont Academy held the sixth annual 24-Hour Play Festival. The 24-hour clock began on Saturday at 7 p.m. with all participants gathering in the Nita Choukas Theater to receive their assignments, themes, and props. This year Mr. Dan Burmester, Head of Theater Arts, changed the parameters and gave each troupe their own inspiration and four to five props to get their creative juices flowing.
Once all the guidelines and details were provided, the writers headed to the Great Room in Fuller Hall to being writing at approximately 8 p.m. English teacher and veteran 24-hour play supervisor, Ms. Jo Fuller said, “this year we had five plays completed and printed by 3:30. Our writers were focused, smart, funny, and fantastic collaborators. You'd think they would want to go to sleep after that, but no! They stayed up all night watching TV and enjoying each other's company!” Ms. Fuller noted that her role is as a mentor mostly. She helps the writers fill plot holes and inconsistencies, and tells them when the audience needs more information to understand what is happening. She also advises them to have a plot by 10 p.m. and a draft by midnight. In her experience, if the writers don't have a complete play by 2 a.m., things can fall apart as they get punchy and sleepy.

Around 6 a.m. as the writers were dozing off, the directors joined them for a brief conversation before they headed to bed. An hour later the actors arrived eager for their assignments and to begin memorizing their lines. In the proceeding 12 hours the directors, actors, stage managers, and technicians worked to bring the six plays to life. Learning Skills Specialist, Ms. Amy Lanterman said, “I've heard teamwork defined as individual commitment to a group effort,” that captures my experience backstage at this year’s 24-hour play festival. Post-graduate Will didn’t anticipate that it would be so fun, he said. First-year participant Jenna ’22 said, “I really enjoyed my first experience in the 24-hour play festival. It was a very diverse group of people in the sense that there were a lot of people from different friend groups with many different interests.”

At 7 p.m. six comical, diverse, and silly plays were performed in Nita Choukas Theater. In the first, the audience was taken down under to Australia with Down-Under Dave, played by History teacher Mr. Andrew Lavoie. In the second play, Wulff ’19 played Narcissus a self-centered Broadway star, who ended up in an icy cave in Greenland. The third troupe brought the audience to Athens Pizza in Bellows Falls, where Kai ’19 was Randy a clumsy townie who loves conspiracy theories and Mr. Jake Douville a soda salesman pushing his poisoned drink Splurge on the other cast members.

The fourth play was set in a city with Jenna ’21 and Kelly ’19 acting as a pair of college friends undergoing a series of unfortunate events on their way to a Migos concert. In the next play the audience was taken to a courthouse in York, Maine as Brody, played by Jaz ’21, was attempting to deflect blame from Funtown Splashtown USA onto Lexi (Riley ’22) for her negligence in carrying a doll down a waterslide, which resulted in her injury. The last and final play a group of criminals named F.U.D.G.E., or Four Under Dogs Getting Elvis, capture an Elvis impersonator played by Siyang ’20 and ultimately all end up dying in the process.

Mr. Burmester explained that "for me, this festival is a success because it brings together students from many different social pockets at Vermont Academy and you see them being creative, solving problems, committing to a shared goal, laughing, and having a good time. It warmed my heart to see our community being together in this way and watching memories form in front of my eyes. Thanks, VA for making this something special!"

Full List of Participants
Lance Zhang ’19
Sam Kendrick ’19
Miranda Fuller ’19
Addie Doherty ’19
Sarah Robinson ’20
Maggie Hodgson ’21
Ms. Meredith Friel
Maggie Adams ‘20
Cameron Feloney ’20
Evan Zorman ’20
Jake Tuckner ’19
Gabi Jacobs ’19
Cody Engle ’19
Mathilde Depery ’20
Annie Moore ’21
Mr. Russell Mayhew
Kelly Mosase ’19
Maya Johnson ’19
Devin Goldstein ’19
Zoee Blossom ’19
Sarah Jacobelli ’19
Daniel Baker ’19
Jessica Dong ’19
Aarong Gong ’19
Lauren Eppinger ’20
Ms. Christine Armiger
Corey Dunn ’20
Mr. Drew Choos
Jordan Loya ’20
Alex Paluszek ’20
Joe Zobitz ’19
Mr. Andrew Lavoie
Makenzie Goldman ’19
Siyang Wang ’20
Wulff Lauterbach ’19
Ruihan Li ’21
Riley Walsh ’22
Danielle McCarthy ’22
Jenna Powers ’22
Ms. Robin Patch
Eva Yiwen ’21
Jaz Creamer ’21
Ms. Skylar Snydar
Ms. Cynthia Murphy
Tommy O'Neil ’19
Mr. Jake Douville
Will Potter ’19
Ms. Lorna Schilling
Bijon Sidhu ’19
Travis Evee ’19
Mark Hansen ’19
Jakob Curtis ’19
Miranda Lu ’19
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Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.