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Tuesday December 7th

LAB! writes, acts, performs plays in 24 hours

Cast of "Ah, Austria"
Buy Photos Cast of "Ah, Austria"

Putting on a play can be a time-intensive process. Casting, blocking and rehearsals can last months.

Or just 24 hours.

UNC’s LAB! Theatre, a largely experimental student dramatic group, held a 24-hour play festival from Friday to Saturday this weekend.

“We thought that this would be a good way of promoting community in a fun, fast-paced environment,” said LAB!’s Natalie Pelletier, who helped produce the event.

What follows is a regular check-in with the participants throughout the process.

8 p.m. Friday

Each of the 34 participants — armed with one article of clothing and a single prop — gathered in the Center for Dramatic Arts.

The 22 actors were divided into six groups, each of which would have its own script and director by 8 a.m.

9:06 p.m. Friday

While the six writers began drafting their plays — which would be performed at 8 p.m. the next day — directors and actors had the night to themselves to gear up for an early start to rehearsing.

Drawing from their lists of cast members, props and costumes, the six writers took the next 10 hours to write a script that would translate into a 10-to-20 minute performance.

7:55 a.m. Saturday

Each actor and director received their script in an e-mail from Adams one hour before rehearsal began, giving them little time to grasp it. None of the roles had yet been assigned. The 28 directors and actors gathered in the Pit with scripts in hand, ready to start production — and move inside.

12:40 p.m. Saturday

“We don’t have time to second-guess ourselves, and that’s sort of a blessing,” director Christine Zagrobelny said during lunch.

The next seven hours would be spent perfecting movement and blocking in classrooms before moving to technical rehearsals on what would be their performance stage in the Hanes Art Center auditorium.

7:40 p.m. Saturday

With less than 20 minutes until show time, actors lined the back hallway of the Hanes Art Center auditorium, some joking while others recited lines almost as if they were in a trance.

8:05 p.m. Saturday

An audience of nearly 100 patrons took in the six productions.

From the opening of the first play, “Missed Connections,” to the close of the last, “Ah, Austria,” the auditorium was filled with energy.

And though the process took less than a day, much of the work showed a sophistication beyond its 24-hour conception.

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