“The Smith Opera House was an amazing place to be on Saturday night,” says Assistant Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth, organizer of the “Finger Lakes Photo / Plays: 24-Hour Theatre,” which doubled as a fundraiser for the Smith Center for the Arts. “Our audiences were so generous this year. We collected four times the amount in donations that we collected last year. In every way, this year surpassed my expectations!”
Drawing inspiration from a single photo by Geneva area photographer Kathy Collins ’09, playwrights spent Friday evening crafting short plays. The following morning, they presented the scripts to the directors, actors and stage managers, who had only until that evening to rehearse and prepare for the premiere.
The project began as an independent, on-campus project in 2014. The partnership with the Smith began with the next iteration of the 24-Hour Theatre, and this year’s event grew to nearly 50 participants, including many HWS students, faculty and staff, producing seven performances with varied interpretations of Collins’ photo.
Many of the plays featured dystopian settings, which Woodworth saw as “a reflection of many people’s fear in the current political climate. Stylistically, however, this year was audaciously theatrical. We had pieces that involved experimental movement, elements of fantasy, and allegorical characters. The writers offered exciting challenges to the actors and directors. And these pieces were challenging to our audience as well. I’ve observed many Geneva theatre audiences over the years and I can safely say that this group received each piece with rapt attention.”
With the success of this year’s event and growing interest, Woodworth anticipates a reprisal next winter.