HB International Thespian Society hosts 24-hour play festival

Hollis Brookline High School’s chapter of the International Thespian Society (the Honor Society for students involved in theatre) recently held its first 24-hour Play Festival. While the task was a difficult undertaking, the hard work of the students produced incredible results, and those who participated are already eager to do it again next year.

In the weeks prior to the festival, participating students submitted their preferences of what role they wished to have: a writer, director, or actor. At 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, all of the students met with ITS advisor Gregory Parker and choir director Matthew Barbosa in the auditorium to find out how they would be contributing. After that, the directors and actors were sent home to get the sleep they would need for the next day, leaving behind the four writers: seniors Vivek Nithipalan, Nicole Poitras, Abby Rogers and junior Patrick Grimes. The writers picked the actors that were to be in their shows out of a hat, were given brief instructions, then sent home to create their works.

Each writer had until 7 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, to produce their four shows: An Interesting Choice, Birds, Seven, and Snake Equality, respectively.

"My main concern was that I wasn’t sure if anything I was writing made sense anymore," said Nithipalan, adding that he stayed up until 3:30 in the morning writing his script. "Parts of my brain started going to sleep and I had to stop [the script] earlier than I had planned."

But it was worth it for him in the end.

"It was weird but cool to see something that I created be put onto a stage," he said.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, the directors – junior Joey Schunemann, senior Lauren Moura, freshman Maura Shanley and junior Frank Pugh – met with Barbosa in the high school’s choir room and read through each script, the writers’ names having been whited out, and decided who would direct which show. At 9:30 a.m., when the actors arrived, the writers, directors and performers of each show were revealed. Then the work began.

The directors and performers had from 10 in the morning to 7 at night to memorize, block, costume, rehearse and design light and sound for each of the four shows.

"It was stressful, but it was the kind of stress that you can’t help but enjoy," said freshman Tatiana Madsen, who performed in Grimes’ Snake Equality. "Everyone was working so well together."

At 8 p.m., each show was performed in its entirety for the community. The shows were well received and seeing everyone’s work finally come together was gratifying for all.

If you enjoyed the festival and want to see more from the Hollis Brookline Performing Arts Department, their next event is the musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," which will be playing March 17, 18, 24 and 25.

This column is written by Nicole Poitras, a senior at Hollis Brookline High School. She was among 51 high school journalists representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C., who attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington in June.