OC Theater Hosts 24-Hour Playwriting Contest Oct. 1

Oklahoma Christian University will introduce a new twist to its annual, faith-based playwriting competition this weekend. Students will have 24 hours to write, rehearse and stage a 10-minute play based on the song lyrics of an OKC-based recording artist. The name of the artist and the five songs on which the plays will be based will not be released until 8 p.m. Friday.

This year’s 24-Hour Original 10-Minute Play Contest is produced by OC’s honorary theater society, Alpha Psi Omega. The ambitious production, which stretches students beyond their comfort zones, is an expression of the theater program’s theme for the 2011-2012 season, which is “A Fish Out of Water.”

Teams of three to four writers will be randomly assigned a song and each play must start and end with the first and last lyric of the song. The writers have 12 hours to write the script. One of five pre-screened directors will be randomly assigned a script. Each play may have up to five actors that may appear in only one play. Actors will audition from 9-11 a.m., and rehearsals will follow until 8 p.m. when each show is performed.

According to Barrett Huddleston, associate professor of communication, the 24-hour format was made possible by the theater program’s recent growth.

“The number of theater majors here has been steadily increasing for the last few years,” Huddleston said. “There’s also been growth in participation by nonmajors, which really fueled our ability to stage a demanding production like this.”

Huddleston has written, directed and acted in three 24-hour theater productions at the University of Minnesota.

“The adrenaline rush of the challenge really gets your through those last few hours,” he said. “I’ve been weaning myself off of caffeine for the last week so I can take it up again Friday to get me through the night.”

Three judges will evaluate the plays. The first is OC theater alumna Annetta Bacon, who is active in community theaters in OKC. The second is Mark Morris, who helps run The Family Theater in OKC. The third judge is Lisa McWhirter, a biology professor at OC. In addition, the audience acts as a fourth judge by turning in ballots at the end of the evening.

There will be prizes for the top three plays, which will be evaluated on quality of composition, how well they speak to a Christian audience and the creativity of staging.

The 24-Hour Playwriting Production will be staged one night only in Judd Theater on the OC campus at 8 p.m. Oct. 1. Admission is free and plays will be suitable for all ages. For more information, visit www.oc.edu/theater.