The 24 Hour Project

Nathaniel Christopher Arthur [Peterborough, Ont.] Volume 38 Issue 10

Whenever I am given an assignment for class I always stress about it until the night before it is due. I have three weeks to do my research, topic development, writing, and proofreading. Usually this is a long drawn out process that requires diligence, discipline and concentration but somehow I always manage to get it all done in three to five hours.

A caffeine-induced frenzy of stringing together somewhat coherent sentences produces a barely passable essay. Sometimes it goes past the professor and I get a good mark but when the professor actually reads it I get screwed.
Although these rush-job essays are rough around the edges and full of holes they do have spontaneity and charm that is lacking in your well planned essay. I think that the best ideas come spontaneously, under pressure before our “better mind” has the opportunity to second guess it.

Therein lies the spontaneous beauty of the 24 Hour Project, in which a series of plays are written, produced, cast and performed in a 24 hour period. On Saturday, November 8, the Gordon Best Theatre was packed with Peterborough’s lively community of theatre-loving Bohemians.

The first play, “Burning Manor,” consisted of a hilarious meta-drama and a troupe of disgruntled actors who felt out of place in the big city of Peterborough. Within the meta drama were campy prose and fake British accents. My favourite quote came from the mother upon having her son return home from the war: “I’ve always thought that the stones of this house were as hot as brimstone – not building stones, stones as hot as the coals of the stones of Lucifer. The brimstone of a burning manor!”

Inevitably, the actors “screw up” and start lamenting their frustrations to their foul-mouthed director who coldly responds: “DO you want to perform to blue haired old ladies out of the retirement home on a daypass? You’re not in Lindsay anymore! If you want to be on television you have to come to Peterborough!” There was constant dialogue about the big city vs. the small town, specifically Peterborough versus Lindsay. Finally the play ends with the tough-skinned actors making a very “Gone With the Wind” declaration: “We can’t go back to Lindsay – we’re in Peterborough now and we won’t let this town eat us alive!”

The next play, “The Theatrix” was a real rush job… the person who wrote it had his computer crash at 3:00 am the night before and consequently lost the play. He quit at that point and someone else had to re-write the play in an hour. Credit must be given to the actors who pulled “The Theatrix,” a
parody of the Matrix, all together in such a short period of time.

“2 by 4” was a stage “mocumentary” of a fictional Peterborough Diva named Carla Faye Taylor. She is a trailer-living, Nyquil-drinking, Visinesniffing
uncle-loving down-home country singer! There is frequent reference to obscure small towns in Peterborough county. Carla’s former best friend claims that they were the best of friends in Fowler’s Corners, she lamented that Carla would never do the slow dances with her – fame changed her.

This is a rush job that deserves an A+ and a bag of chips!

Nathaniel Christopher

In the real world, Canadian country stars like Shania Twain have to make it big in America in order to be famous… in “2 by 4” the entertainment world is shrunken down to Peterborough County. Peterborough County is portrayed as a Mecca for entertainment and culture – to make it big one must make it in Peterborough county. Although she’s from Peterborough County, Carla speaks with a southern drawl: “I used to live in the sewer, now I live in the swamp – I am moving up in the world!” Whether she’s cruising down George Street on a Saturday night, playing in all the legions from Havelock to Bewdley she still remains the girl from Jackson Creek.

“Musings” was good, but it lacked the sheer originality and brilliance of “2 by 4” in that it borrowed
existing celebrities and characters for its play instead of inventing its own. Nonetheless, one can’t help but laugh at the sight of a woman saying, “I thought I told you to go fuck yourself” to George W. Bush. In this play Bush wants an apartment with the “best view in the world” but a French lady currently occupies the apartment and he needs the help of Jerry Lewis to get her out. He ends up shooting her and somehow the play ends in a free for all fight between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Moore.

“A War to End All Wars” could very easily have been a skit from Saturday Night Live. Just like 2 by 4 it had
a highly professional and astute quality to it. The scene was a talent show at a high school in Owen Sound. The cast consists of a perverted principal, some awkward students, and a 30-year-old “townie.” The students sing hilarious songs and seem oblivious to the inappropriate lyrics, which go past the principal.

I commend the talent and drive that went into this gem of a performance. Everyone involved in the 24 Hour Project demonstrated such talent and vision that it proves the performing arts can compete against hockey rinks and professional wrestling. What makes the 24 Hour Project unique is its affectionate focus
on local places and customs – something that we all can relate to. This is a rush job that deserves an A+ and a bag of chips!

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.