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JUNEAU - Little sleep will be had for many of Juneau's creative minds this weekend. Writers, directors and actors will trade slumber for scripts as they participate in the 4th annual 24 Hour Miracle, a time-constrained theater production event organized by Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre (JDLT). Beginning at 8 p.m. on Oct. 2, four teams will race against the clock to create four completely original works to be performed on stage 24 hours later.
Twenty-four hours, four plays, and comics 093009 NEWS 7 CCW Staff Writer JUNEAU - Little sleep will be had for many of Juneau's creative minds this weekend. Writers, directors and actors will trade slumber for scripts as they participate in the 4th annual 24 Hour Miracle, a time-constrained theater production event organized by Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre (JDLT). Beginning at 8 p.m. on Oct. 2, four teams will race against the clock to create four completely original works to be performed on stage 24 hours later.

Courtesy Photos

Performers in the 2007 24 Hour Miracle. Clockwise from top left: Amelia Jenkins and Mike Christenson. Sarah Cunningham and Cate Ross. Sarah Cunningham, Mike LeVine and Cate Ross.


Courtesy Photos

Performers in the 2007 24 Hour Miracle. Clockwise from top left: Amelia Jenkins and Mike Christenson. Sarah Cunningham and Cate Ross. Sarah Cunningham, Mike LeVine and Cate Ross.


Courtesy Photos

Performers in the 2007 24 Hour Miracle. Clockwise from top left: Amelia Jenkins and Mike Christenson. Sarah Cunningham and Cate Ross. Sarah Cunningham, Mike LeVine and Cate Ross.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Story last updated at 9/30/2009 - 11:33 am

Twenty-four hours, four plays, and comics

JUNEAU - Little sleep will be had for many of Juneau's creative minds this weekend. Writers, directors and actors will trade slumber for scripts as they participate in the 4th annual 24 Hour Miracle, a time-constrained theater production event organized by Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre (JDLT). Beginning at 8 p.m. on Oct. 2, four teams will race against the clock to create four completely original works to be performed on stage 24 hours later.

Writers will begin the process when they pick a theme, literally out of a hat, at 8 p.m. on Oct. 2. They will then rush off to their respective writing spaces to crank out a script, which is due at 8 a.m. the following morning.

Geoff Kirsch will be writing his third 24 Hour Miracle script this year. As a creative writer who was active in theater in New York prior to his move to Alaska, his passion for the craft was recharged upon his discovery of 24 Hour Miracle, his first integration into Juneau's theater scene.

"It's a great way for a lot of people to get involved in theatre who would either normally not do it or don't because they don't have that much time," Kirsch said.

Later, Kirsch became a winner of the JDLT's Juneau Playwright Project, an annual one-act competition for writers. His involvement in JDLT gradually grew and he now serves as president. But 24 Hour Miracle is an opportunity for those less zealous than Kirsch a chance to shine on stage.

"This is a one day thing," Kirsch said. "A lot of people can do that."

Time is key when working in the Miracle. Even though writers technically have 12 hours at the typewriter, Kirsch said many of those hours must be spent elsewhere.

"The first thing I do is go home and drink some coffee, pace around a little bit and talk with my wife," Kirsch said. "In reality, it takes a couple hours to think about what you're going to do. Leave an hour on the other side for proofreading and printing."

Kirsch said the crunch can foster creativity in ways that aren't as apparent without a looming deadline.

"You don't really have time to agonize over things," he said. "Simplest is always best."

Kirsch said most of the productions he has seen have been very successful with styles ranging from light and comedic to dramatic and powerful. But there is potential for some participants to buckle under the pressure.

"In the first year they did it, one of the playwrights didn't bring something in so they adlibbed," Kirsch said.

Writers are due to hand off their scripts to directors and acting teams at 8 a.m. on Oct. 3, at which point they may rest and recover from their writing marathons, or they may choose to stay awake and help with rehearsals. In his first Miracle, Kirsch had to write himself into the script because he had an acting team of two but needed three characters for his play. That meant over 24 hours without sleep by curtain call. To top it off, while driving to turn in his script he hit a pothole and had to spend his lunch hour changing a flat tire.

According to Eric Caldwell, producer of the first Miracle, the most difficult thing is preparing for disaster if something goes wrong.

"If an actor doesn't show, a playwright doesn't finish writing or there's a technical glitch, you have no time to develop a Plan B," Caldwell said. "You just make it happen with what you do have."

But in the midst of potential catastrophe, creative thinkers are pushed to their limits, creating rewarding results.

"When someone is limited to only 12 hours to write or 12 hours to prepare a complete one-act play, the creativity that comes from that process is incredible," Caldwell said. "Whatever role they've played, the people involved in 24 Hour Miracle have found things inside themselves that they didn't know were there."

Pat Race will be writing a script for Miracle as well, but once he hands it in, his work will only be half done. Race will add a twist to this year's Miracle by integrating a celebration of 24 Hour Comics Day, which happens to land on Oct. 3. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, he will be turning the script he writes the previous night into a drawn comic. Meanwhile, his director and acting team will be working it out on the stage.

"I'm going to try and wear two hats on that day," Race said. "My comic might suffer because I won't have much time to draw, but in my mind I'm going to be working on a comic the whole time. It might be more of a storyboard that I give to (the acting team)."

Race's finished comic will be displayed at intermission during the final performance, which will be held at 8 p.m. on Oct. 3 at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. For more information, visit jdlittletheatre.org.


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