Writing for 14/48:HS!
Ever wondered what it’s like to write for us? Here’s a breakdown to help you get a better idea of what this wacky-awesome festival looks like.
First things first, helpful things to pack:
· A computer—for writing your play! Also, a computer charger. If you do not have access to a computer, let the producer know in advance and 14/48:HS will support you in writing.
· A phone and phone charger.
· Something cozy to change into when you’re staying up all night.
· Snacks that comfort you.
· Anything else you need to help you get through the night (a particular mug, blanket, medications for the morning after, a toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.)
Now, let’s get down to the schedule! Here’s what an average festival looks like for a 14/48:HS writer.
Arrive to the theater for the kickoff party. The party starts at 6 pm and continues until about 7:30 pm. At the party, you will meet other participants and be able to submit themes that will inspire the night’s plays.
At 7 pm, a 14/48:HS Festival member will draw a theme, (from a giant plastic ice cream cone called the “Cone of Destiny”) and each writer will draw a piece of paper that has two pieces of information. First, the number of the play (play “1” through play “7”). This is the final show order (!) which means that you’ll know if your play is first, last, or somewhere in between. The paper also tells you how many actors will be in your play (how many parts to write.) Actors are unspecified by gender and will be randomly assigned to plays the following day, so you do not know who your actors are as you write. (that’s the beauty of this process!)
After the drawing is finished, you will be driven to the “writers’ hub”. This is where all the writers hang out for the night and write their plays together! On the way to the writers’ hub is a great time to bond with some of the fellow writers you’ll stay up with all night!
At the writers’ hub, we give you dinner! Writing mentors (adults who are familiar with 14/48 and write plays semi-professionally! They are here to offer support and help you out in any way that you’d like!) will arrive at the house and, with the support of experienced 14/48:HS writers, organize a brainstorming session that will probably go until about 8:30 pm. (This helps everyone figure out what their play will be about.)
14/48:HS plays are spontaneous: you don’t need to take them seriously, but you should write what makes you happy! Some plays are very connected to the theme, some are not. A play should be no more than ten pages and remember: actors only have a day to memorize. Therefore, the “wordier” your play is, the shorter it has to be. If you have only two actors in your play, try to keep the play to about 6 pages.
Writers usually split up after 8:30—some like working in chattier groups, others find more isolated areas. Whatever works for you is okay! Writing mentors generally work on their own projects, but will do occasional check-ins and are always available if you need support.
For the next couple hours, writers usually work at their own pace. It is often advisable to try to get a basic plot outline down and generate as much text as possible—it is easier to edit late at night than it is to create new content.
Around 12 am, we have an ice cream break! This is a time to stretch your legs and relax for a little. Some writers may be close to finishing a rough draft, others might be about halfway through. Everybody should aim to have at least a few pages of actual dialogue written by this break.
During this 12 am ice cream break, writers also check in with each other to determine the best time for a group readthrough, (reading the plays out loud, together). Each writer will cast their play with the other writers, listen as they read through it, time the play, and receive feedback. Obviously, it is best to have a readthrough when everybody is done, so 3 am is usually a good ballpark time estimate.
After 12, writers usually work for a little longer in a phase that’s much more individually-focused: this is all about getting a play done. If writers finish up a draft before a readthrough, they may ask another writer to read through it. Some writers take naps during this time period. (It’s important to take care of yourself!)
Around 3 am (or whenever the designated time decided by the writers is), a read-through will begin. Often, readthroughs take a while because it’s late and everyone is pretty tired! They’re good for bonding! If you really need to work, you are not obligated to participate. Expect LOTS of giggles.
Read-throughs often finish up around 5 or 5:30 am, and then writers put finishing touches on their work. Don’t try to completely rewrite after the read-through: it is hard to piece together a play with that much sleep deprivation. After work is done, it must be sent to the producer and day-of-coordinator – we’ll give you these emails! You should include page numbers on each page, a header that includes the number of your play in the order and its title, and a list of technical needs at the top of the first page—any sound, props, set pieces, costumes that you know the play will need. (We’ll go over all of this with you in person.)
All plays must be sent to these emails by 7:00 am. Some writers finish early and take naps, others stay up all night. Whatever works for you to keep yourself healthy!
Then we will drive you to the theater and get there by 7:50 am. We make sure that no writer will have to drive themselves back the theater, but if you feel healthy and safe to drive (as in, you got enough sleep in naps throughout the night) you may be allowed to do so.
At the theater, you have the opportunity to put up post-its on the Wall of Love! (A big wall of sticky notes where we write nice things to people!) You can compliment other writers on their work and kindness and say all sorts of silly things. Right after you settle in, directors will arrive at the theater and draw plays. (Again, from the Cone of Destiny! We put a copy of each script in and each director pulls one out.) Then you will have some time to meet with your director and chat with them briefly as they read through your play—this is a good opportunity to explain any key things you think might need explaining (a certain stage direction, a mood, a backstory), but remember, the director is the director! (You have given them a wonderful thing, but now they get to run with it.)
At 8:30 am, directors will draw actors for their play, and then you will travel with your director and their actors to a room where they will do one readthrough. You will stay with them for this readthrough and only this readthrough (You need sleep! The play is the director’s now), and then you are free to go. Make sure to check in with the producer and day-of coordinator before you go so they know you are safely able to get to where you need to go.
SLEEP throughout the day. You will need it.
At 7:30 pm, plays will go up! You are invited to attend both this performance and the one at 10:00 pm. Tickets will be reserved for you for the 10:00 show, please reserve your own tickets for the 7:30 pm (remember, they are free with a donation). Invite your friends and make sure to add more to the Wall of Love if you appreciate anything.
Then, MAYBE YOU DO IT ALL AGAIN! (depending on the day and if you’re signed up to do both!)