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WAYTCO's '24 Hour Play Generator' project is underway

There’s a zen like atmosphere at the Subiaco Arts Centre, it’s just after 10pm on Friday night and the bar area of the theatre is silent. Scattered around the room are several playwrights, each nested in a corner making notes or tapping the keys of a laptop.

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The Western Australian Youth Theatre Company’s 24 Hour Play Generator project is underway. The writers began working earlier in the evening, their task is to create a play in just 24 hours. They don’t have 24 hours to write the play though, these plays will be performed in front of a playing audience tonight.

By the time the sun rises, they’ll have to be ready to hand their scripts in, as a throng of actors and directors will be arriving to begin rehearsals of the six ten minute plays.

It’s the third year that the youth theatre company have staged their intensive development project and this year all the writers and directors are women.

In a quiet corner of the theatre we met up with Alysa Osaka who has set up camp to create her contribution to the project. Osaka has written several acclaimed pieces of work but her writing career began with this inaugural 24 hour play generator back in 2016.

“I’m not much of a writer, I come from a performance background, and the first time I ever wrote anything was for this a few years ago, and I really enjoyed the deadline.”

The imposing deadline is something Osaka finds appealing in the process admitting that when she’s written other projects she’s wished there was more of an impending deadline as a motivator.

“It’s also appealing that it’s super loose and there’s no real restrictions beyond being designated a cast. I really enjoy the freedom of it and there’s some cool sleepover vibes of writing a play overnight” Osaka said.

The plays are not six completely stand alone stories, Osaka tells us that this year there are some shared characters that might appear in several of the productions.

“We’re all in our little zones writing, but because we share some characters this year there’s a little bit of chatting to compare what we’re doing, and stealing little bits and bobs from other people’s stories”

Osaka said to create a play within the timeframe designated she’s had to accept that she can’t go back over things and debate changes.

“If I liked it when I wrote it, then it’s probably good. I’m not going to spend too much time going back over things. I might not feel the same way if I read it in a few years time but that’s the goal for now.”

“Writing is often a solitary and quiet experience, I write with my headphones in, listening to music, but I think if you come in here tomorrow afternoon at 3pm when all the writers and directors are here it’ll be a completely different story.

WAYTCO’s Artistic Director James Berlyn confirms that while it’s peaceful and quiet at 10pm on Friday night, by Saturday afternoon it will be anything but serene.

“It will be anything but peaceful, by that stage each play group will have had a half hour blocking run on the mainstage and they’ll be at tech-run stage.

“Everyone know the secret to success is the less you can have lighting cues and sounds cues, and the more you can make the play about character and story, the greater the likelihood of success.” Berlyn said.

Berlyn says the project is a good training exercise for young actors and directors.

“What I love about it is it forces a collaborative process, you don’t have time for diva stunts, you don’t have time for a lot of extraneous talking, you have to get to the heart of the matter pretty quickly, for me – I like work that does that.

“We’re not saying that all work is made this way, it’s just a really great roller-coaster ride – jump in, have a go, and you get some gems!” Berlyn said. “It’s good pressure. It’s a short sharp jolt to your creative sensibilities.”

While this year’s project features six female writers and six female directors, Berlyn says if they’d had more funding they could have hosted 12 writers and directors.

“There is just that great a pool of established and emerging writers and directors in Western Australia, it’s really exciting.”

By the time the curtain rises on the six plays it will be through the successful collaboration of around 55 people involved in staging the project.

24 Play Generator, sponsored by Act Belong Commit,  is on tonight at the Subiaco Arts Centre. Get tickets from the Perth Theatre Trust.

Graeme Watson


 

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