For its seventh year, Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble will expand its annual fundraiser.
The 24 Hour Play Festival is the largest fundraiser for the theatre each year. Partnering with Washburn University, the theater group will perform six new, original plays by local playwrights, Austin Snell, Doug Goheen, Lisa Greenwood, Scott Kickhaefer, Megan Becker and the resident poet laureate of Kansas, Kevin Rabas.
Many of the playwrights are 24 Hour Play Festival veterans and come back every year, said Craig Fisher, Artistic Director of the Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble. Greenwood and Rabas have come back almost every festival to write, he added.
“I love working with the actors and directors Ad Astra brings together,” Rabas said.
“This group always makes my plays better, through dialogue and collaboration.”
Rabas said one of the draws to him for this production is that it’s dynamic in a way that only swiftly made theater can be, and “hot with the heat of new creation.”
Rabas has been a regular at the festival since 2012, and said it is one of the highlights of his summer.
In addition to the six playwrights, six directors and approximately 24 actors contribute to the night of theater.
The fundraiser, true to its name, is a 24-hour process to create, direct, cast and stage six 10 minute plays. On Friday, actors, directors and playwrights report to the Andrew J. and Georgia Neese Gray Theatre at Washburn University for introductions. Playwrights and directors choose their actors, then directors are excused and playwrights return home to write their new production.
Directors report back at 8 a.m. Saturday to spend an hour with their script, actors return at 9 a.m., and the groups begin rehearsing. They practice all day until the performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Doors to the Washburn University Theatre in the Garvey Fine Arts Center on Washburn’s campus open at 7 p.m., and a suggested donation of $10 is recommended to attend the performances.
“The other new feature of this year’s festival is the added fundraising component,” Fisher said in a news release. “Ad Astra was lucky enough to receive a generous matching donation of $2,400 this year, and they have decided to use this, the 24 Hour Play Festival, to raise funds to help with the rest of their season and begin raising money for many things on their needs list.”
Fisher said the list includes a new light board, projector and cables, projection screen, wireless microphones, sound board and speakers, additional lighting, and lighting trees.
Also new this year, festival patrons can enter a raffle with more than 20 items donated from local businesses, many of which are valued over $200. Local businesses such as Warehouse 414, Shana Cakes, Topeka Live on Stage, Manning Music, Great Life Fitness and The Burger Stand on College Hill were a few of the contributors.
Raffle tickets are $1 each, or for $20 patrons can receive 24 tickets.
On Thursday, Ad Astra will also be hosting a preview to increase interest for the festival. Partnering with the historic Jayhawk Theatre, patrons can come out for a viewing party of past 24 Hour Play Festival plays, have a drink or two, and have the opportunity to bid on early-release raffle item. During the cocktail hour, there will also be a preview of the 7th annual festival.
For more information about Ad Astra Theatre or to get involved in the production, visit adastratheatre.com.
Contact reporter Savanna Maue at (785) 295-5621 or @CJFoodFun or @SavannaMaue on Twitter.