Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Overnight Sensations Recruiting Cast for July Productions

Todd Ristau

It's coming up on time for Overnight Sensations, Todd Ristau's unusual theater presentation that features a group of writers, actors and directors who will put on several plays--all written, rehearsed and produced within 24 hours. This will take place on the weekend of July 6 and 7.

My Grandgirl Madeline and I will be in the cast and so will Maddie's Auntie Grandma Christina.

Here's what Todd has to say:

Friday night at 7:30 there will be a reception to meet all the actors, directors, and playwrights and then the shows are rehearsed on Saturday, with the curtain going up at 8PM. The entire event is free to the public.

The pre-selected casts of 4-6 actors include performers of all age and experience ranges, including some local business leaders, celebrities, and patrons of the arts. It isn't about being a great actor, but about having a great passion for local theatre and new plays.

I created the first Overnight Sensations event for Mill Mountain Theatre while working as the Underground Roanoke Producer in 2007. The idea is simple: at 8 p.m. we take six playwrights and pair them with six directors, give them a bunch of random writing prompts and send them off to write six ten-minute plays. At 8 o'clock the next morning the directors read the scripts over coffee and a roll, suggest changes, and then we print the scripts in time for the actors to show up at 11 a.m.  Around noon, the six plays rehearse until 5 p.m. when we do a cue to cue. The audience arrives at 7 p.m. and at 8 the lights go down and the show starts.

After the show we adjourn to a local eatery to continue the conversation.

It has proven a great way to get people involved, increase awareness of everything that goes into mounting a play, and broaden the appreciation for new plays, playwrights, and area theaters. We don't charge, but we do ask for donations to help support Mill Mountain Theatre and the fund at Hollins for the production of new plays written by our student playwrights--like this year's premier of Samantha Macher's "The Arctic Circle" at Mill Mountain Theatre, which then went to New York and is now getting published.

Due to renovations at Center in the Square, this year's Overnight Sensations will be on the main stage of the Hollins University Theatre.

This year's writers are Dwayne Yancey, Carl Hancock Rux, and several of Hollins ' MFA playwrights.  Directors include a Hollins faculty member and a student, Miriam Frazier, Drew Dowdy, Charlie Boswell and Kris Laguzza.

If you're interested in talking to Todd about this, e-mail him at

(Photo: Annaliese Moyer.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dan! And just for a little clarification, we genuinely want a good mix of solid local actors, local personalities, and representatives from local arts organizations helping to support new plays by baking six of them in one night--and we welcome everyone who would like to be involved to send us a picture that looks like you, contact information and short bio. We will then select from the pool of volunteers a MAXIMUM of 36 cast members to be spread evenly through the six plays. But, even if you aren't selected to be in the show, we're keeping a database of local actors that our playwriting students and area theatres can use to contact people about upcoming readings, productions and special events that need your talents!

    Thank you again, and for full details about everything that is going on this summer (including our local general auditions on June 23 and 24 out at Hollins University) please visit Hollins Playwright's Lab on Facebook and "Like" us to get updates and check out event listings!

    -Todd Ristau