Counting down from 24

Story by Carolyn Tiry

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It’s an exercise in letting go.

So said sophomore Alex Brandt of the 24-Hour Project. Last year, he stuck around to watch the actors and director rehearse the play he had written, cringing when they got something wrong. But the final product, he said, was perfect.

“I’ve grown a lot since then,” he said. “I’ve learned to write something and let it go, let it move on to the next person to work on. So I’m not staying this year.”

The 24-Hour Project is an annual event in which volunteers create various types of art in one manic 24-hour period. All of that art is then performed for an audience the next night.

This year’s 24-Hour Project, put on by the UWEC Players, took place this past weekend and featured six 10-minute plays, music, improv comedy and choreographed dances all centered around the theme “at last” with a waiting room for a setting.

Jarrel Montgomery, who is active with the forensics team, said he got involved with the project this year because he missed acting. He played a man anxiously waiting for his dog to come out of surgery.

“You get to perform with your whole body,” he said. “I’ve been so used to doing formal speech that I almost forgot what it feels like to let your body be a vessel for emotion.”

Sophomore Kyle Moeller said he attended the show because he had friends in it, but he was also intrigued by the concept.

“Anything assembled in only 24 hours has the potential to be brilliant,” he said.

Moeller added that despite some passing concerns, he enjoyed the production overall.

“I liked the structure and the variety,” he said. “It didn’t get monotonous, even though I thought it would.”

Sophomore Victoria Smith said one her favorite parts of the show was the writing.

“I was just really impressed by the writing,” she said. “It brought up deep ideas in such a short amount of time.”

Senior Koryna Flores participated in the 24-Hour Project every year since its inception in 2008, and directed one of the plays this year. She said she likes doing it because of the people she gets to meet.

“Because it’s random assignment, you never know who you’ll get paired up with,” she said. “It’s a fun opportunity, especially to be able to branch out from the things you normally do.”

Junior Abbey Lowenstein co-coordinated this year’s 24-Hour Project with senior Katie Gerarden. They both said that because of the impromptu nature of the event, the amount of planning that goes into it is deceptive.

The bulk of the work really started a month ago when people could start signing up, but Lowenstein said the past week has been the busiest.

“There’s a lot of back work,” Lowenstein said, “but when we get to the final product, it’s so worth it. Always.”

Despite the amount of planning that goes into it, Lowenstein said she doesn’t mind that the dance, music and plays are only performed once. That’s the point of the project, she said: to put it together and then let it go.

“I think that’s actually the beauty of it,” she said. “I think that you would lose some of — not to sound to cliche — but you would lose some of the magic of it if it kept going. It’s 24 hours; that’s all you get, and you put it all out there.”

Event organizers Abbey Lowenstein and Katie Gerarden talk about the history and impact of the 24 Hour Project.