Photos from Overnight Sensations 2012

That's me, in the jester's hat, sitting in the back of the auditorium with fellow playwright Ben R. Williams (in black, foreground) and actor Mike Allen (in red). In front of us is actor Chris Shepard.

For the fourth time, I took part in Overnight Sensations, the annual 24-hour play project sponsored by the Playwrights’ Lab at Hollins University in conjunction with Mill Mountain Theatre and other arts organizations in the Roanoke Valley.

The drill is the same each year: The writers, directors and casts gather on Friday night (this year at Hollins, since Center in the Square is undergoing renovations). The writers draw randomly a director. The director draws a cast. And then we alternate drawing a genre, a setting and a theme.

Then it’s off to write. On Saturday morning, the directors and writers assemble for a production meeting at 8 a.m. About noon, the actors arrive for an afternoon of rehearsal and then at 8 p.m., the curtain goes up.

It’s always a fun show and a great chance to work with some talented people, from both around the Roanoke Valley — and the whole country.

This year my director was Drew Dowdy, whose work I’ve admired on Roanoke stages before but whom I didn’t really know. He turned out to be fantastic. Between us, we then drew “science fiction,” “nursing home” and “overcoming weakness.”

I’ll have more to say about the script I produced — “The Keys to the Universe Next Door” — in the next post.

Until then, are some photos –– courtesy of the Playwright’s Lab — from this year’s event:

* Meeting and greeting at the Hollins theatre: That’s me in the back, with the jester’s hat that I always wear for Overnight Sensations.

* The six playwrights on stage, as we await the drawing. Todd Ristau always manages a mix of local writers and out-of-towners who are either students or faculty members in the Hollins summer MFA program.

* The drawing begins! That’s Todd in the orange shirt.

* The first drawing is for directors. Here we are, all paired up. Drew Dowdy and I go over the rules. Not once, but twice!

* Next, the director draws the cast. Here’s Drew meeting with cast members, while I’m still on stage for the rest of the drawing.

* Flash forward to Saturday morning. Here I am arriving, after three hours of sleep.

* And still arriving, still with three hours of sleep.

* Food!

* After the production meeting, and some script tweaks, I was off to my son’s baseball game — and Drew proceeded to rehearse the cast.

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