The theater departments at Morgan State University and Towson University will be collaborating for the first time this Friday and Saturday in producing a Play Slam.
Play Slam is a 24-hour event where teams of MSU and TU students write, direct, rehearse and produce six plays. The final performance of the one-acts will take place at Morgan’s Turpin-Lamb Theatre this Saturday night at 8 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
TU Professor David White serves as the event advisor along with MSU Professor Deletta Gillespie. White has been producing play slams at Towson for over five years and is enthusiastic about the benefits. “Students make theatre, good, fully produced theater, in a short, intense production process,” he says.
The participants—playwrights, directors, actors, and stage managers—meet at 8 p.m. tonight in Towson’s Center for the Arts, where the creative process will begin. Students will vote on a theme for the plays. The playwrights will begin writing the scripts and directors will choose their actors. The duties will be split among six writers and six directors, half from each school.
After an all-night playwriting session, the writers will wrap up their work at 8 a.m. when 30 actors show up at Towson ready to start performing the newly created scripts. Shortly after noon, the entire crew will move to the Morgan campus to finish rehearsing and tech the show. The curtain goes up at 8 p.m. Saturday night—exactly 24 hours after it began.
White and Gillespie have been planning for this event since August, but according to White, they have had thoughts of collaborating for over a year. “We hope that this is the beginning of many collaborations between Morgan and Towson,” said White.
Gillespie sees a lot of benefits to the project. Students get to create theatre without the long-term commitment of a six- to eight-week rehearsal process. They also get to create without being graded, which can reduce anxiety and increase confidence. Because students spend over 15 intense hours rehearsing in each other’s company, they develop bonds—and network. “Students also get the opportunity to be seen by faculty and students from both institutions, which increases their chances of being cast in plays and films in the future,” says Gillespie. “But the most important thing is for them to flex their creative muscles.”
“That’s the fun,” says White. “We’ll have six new plays that didn’t exist on Friday presented on Saturday night.”
Editor’s note: Students in Advanced Editing at the School of Global Journalism and Communication will be doing their own 24-hour reporting “slam,” giving updated, multimedia coverage of this event all night Friday and all-day Saturday.