You only have 24 hours!

Story by Eric Christenson

The 24 Hour Project is an arts project put on by the UWEC Players where artists from many genres do a piece of work in 24 hours and present them all during a performance.
At the helm of the project is Senior Siri Brobst, the president of the Players. Below is an interview with her about the project and the
upcoming performance.

Eric Christenson: Could you start by telling us a little bit about the 24 Hour Project?

Siri Brobst: Yeah, there’s quite a lot to say. It’s a doozy. It’s an all-encompassing arts festival where people from all different disciplines — dance, theater, technical theater, art and music — all get together. We start with our kick-off on Friday and we randomly choose a theme and a location that everyone has to base their work around. And after that, everybody disperses, and we start working on it. The playwrights go off and write 10-minute plays, musicians compose music, dancers choreograph dance; we have artists doing all sorts of different work with different media. Last year, we had photography, this year we have around seven artists. Then the next morning, we bring in all of the actors and all of the plays are memorized, staged within the next few hours. We run through it once and then we perform it at 7 o’clock.

EC: Wow, that’s really impressive! It’s crazy that you can bring everything together in such a short amount of time.

SB: Yeah. What I like about it is that it’s the creative process, but it’s condensed from like a couple months or a year into a day. So some stuff works and some stuff doesn’t, but whatever we put on, we’re really proud of.

EC: That’s good to hear. How exactly are you involved with the project?

SB: I’m the president of the (UWEC) Players, so basically myself and Abby Lowenstein — who is the secretary of the group — we are running everything. While some people will get a chance to sleep or take a break — like the playwrights when they’re done — I’m gonna be running all 24 hours. (laughs)

EC: Well, that’s good that you’re not sleeping on the job, I appreciate that.

SB: Yeah, go big or go home.

EC: Yeah, exactly! When did you start being a part of not only the players, but the project itself?

SB: Well, last year I was the “apprentice” on the project. I went up to the two presidents who were running it last year and asked them if I could just observe everything that they did so I could run it this year. It’s such a huge undertaking. That’s what Abby’s doing, ‘cause next year she’s going to be running the whole thing. But yeah, last year I had my hands in it. I did directing, too, and got to see how everything worked. So hopefully it will work the same way this year.

EC: How many people are involved with organizing the whole thing? Is it all Players or are there other people?

SB: As far as organizing it, we have all of the officers of the organization working together, trying to pull together food donations and everything. So the president, vice president, secretary, media coordinator, treasurer and community outreach coordinator are all slipping into our different niches and trying to make it so this happens. Then outside of that, we have over 50 participants signed up to actually take part in the 24 hours.

EC: That’s impressive! Is that more one thing over another? Like, more playwrights than actors? I mean, I would imagine it would span out a bit.

SB: Well, let me just bring up my spreadsheet here. We’re actually organized even though it doesn’t seem like it.

EC: Oh, I trust you. I wouldn’t worry about it.

SB: We’re sitting at just over 22 actors, give or take a few, we have (counts) seven artists and at least seven different groups of composers participating. There are some bands coming, some solo composers, a couple of dancers, five playwrights — it’s pretty evenly spread out.

EC: That should be pretty cool to see.

SB: I hope so!

My next question is what sort of things are fair game for the performance. I mean, obviously you’re pretty organized, but it seems pretty loose, do you know what I mean? I feel like most things are pretty fair game for something like this.

SB: Oh yeah, you come in and you do whatever strikes you. It’s such a short amount of time that pretty much we’re like, ‘okay, there’s your inspiration, run with it and see what you can do’ because we just want to see how far people will go.

EC: You just mentioned that you want to see how far people will go, but what do you mainly hope to accomplish through the showcase?

SB: Oh man, I might get a little political here (laughs). I think it’s so important that we support the arts. I think that this should be a healthy collaboration. We hope to entertain people when they come to see the show, but we also want to show them what we can do, how important this is, how much we can accomplish. It’s a really cool thing and the showcase part on Saturday is a way of showing what we love to do and what we love to create with our community.