It’s that time of the year again to start thinking about the most magical event of the year! The Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival is approaching. Billed as “24 HOURS. 6 NEW PLAYS. 1 CASTLE.”, Trafalgar 24 is that and so much more! It’s a virtual whirlwind of creativity, dished out in the extravagant setting of a mid 19th century castle in Whitby, Ontario.
A little about the Castle: Nelson Gilbert Reynolds built Trafalgar Castle as a private residence in 1859. After losing his fortune to gambling, Mr. Reynolds was forced to sell the castle. It soon became the Ontario Ladies’ College, and eventually Trafalgar Castle School. To this day, it is a school for girls…complete with dorm rooms to house students from all over the world. Once a year, during spring-break, the castle is handed over to Jeremy Smith and Driftwood Theatre for their fundraising gala, TRAFALGAR 24.
From the Driftwood Theatre Trafalgar24 Webpage:
Twenty-four artists receive a scant 24-hours to write, rehearse and perform six site-specific plays in Whitby’s beautiful 19th century castle. TRAFALGAR 24 is a theatrical event unlike any other, where the audience is right on top of the action as each of the 10-minute scripts play out around them in locations throughout the castle. At TRAFALGAR 24 audience members play a vital role of their own, helping to select one winning play to receive a commission for further development from Driftwood Theatre.
March 11, 2016 | 6:30pm Silent Auction Starts | 7:30pm Performances Begin | Trafalgar Castle, 401 Reynolds Street, Whitby
Now, here’s a breakdown of what happens from yours truly. I have had the extreme pleasure of being a playwright for this event SIX times! And this March (2016) I may or may not once again be having the honour of being locked into the castle overnight to cobble a 10-minute play for production the following evening. Here’s how it’s done:
- THURSDAY EVENING 10:00PM – 6 playwrights converge on the Castle. Jeremy (Driftwood Theatre’s Artistic Director) corals the playwrights and gives them their instructions. Write a 10-minute play in 8 hours. He gives them headshots of the actors who will appear in their plays and he tells them which room in the castle their particular play will take place in. Jeremy then leads the playwrights on a tour of the castle, stopping in each of the 6 chosen rooms to show them where the plays will take place. Typically, this is the room in which the playwright will write their play. They are allowed to use anything in the room chosen for them…but they are not allowed to add props that are not already there. That is that. 10pm arrives and the 6 playwrights retreat into their rooms and the playwriting begins. Jeremy goes home…plays are cobbled.
- FRIDAY MORNING 6:00am – 6 very tired disheveled playwrights are allowed to leave the castle. After, of course, they hand in their plays. 6 new plays. 6 worried, electrified, tired, sleepless, chaotic, changed playwrights. Never the twain shall meet— the playwrights escape and only then do the directors and actors converge on the castle. They all arrive at 6am. They are given their plays to read-rehearse-tweak-enrich-bring to life. I can’t tell you what happens in the next eight hours. I can only imagine that it is a more chaotic and boisterous eight hours than the eight hours before it! The creation really happens in this eight hours. I will always and forever be in awe of the product that comes from these eight hours. Actors and directors are wondrous creatures who should be revered.
- The tireless volunteers and organizers then prepare for the onslaught of the audience. This includes setting up the cheese and hors d’oeuvres tables, setting up the wine tables, and setting up the tremendous silent auction tables. REMEMBER–this is a fundraiser. The silent auction helps Driftwood Theatre’s fundraising efforts. They are, after all, a traveling theatre that gives Ontario Shakespeare in the Park all summer long. They need to fund this incredible Bard’s Bus summer tour. Trafalgar24 is the cornerstone of their fundraising efforts.
- THE AUDIENCE ARRIVES! I believe the audience is typically 300 people. These 300 are split into 6 smaller groups that will stay together the entire evening (apart from the breaks for hors d’oeuvres and wine, silent auctioning, speeches, and dessert). The 6 groups will wander throughout the castle, visiting each of the 6 rooms in which the plays will be performed and seeing each one in turn. So each play will be performed SIX times. Between performances, everything mentioned above takes place. Basically, it’s a magical night filled with theatre, wining, excellent food, shopping the auction items, and schmoozing. It’s a must see event that sadly only happens once a year.
So, that’s Trafalgar24.
If you are a member of the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION, you will have a special discounted price for tickets. If you are a member of the WCDR, you can book your discounted tickets WCDR tickets by calling 416-605-5132 or 844-601-8057.
I would like to thank Driftwood Theatre, and Jeremy Smith, for giving me my many opportunities to be a small part of this amazing event. Trafalgar24 is the crowning event of my writing year. Creating a play in 8 hours that will be witnessed ‘on stage’ by 6 audiences one short night later is an exhilarating, frenetic, terrifying, appalling, energetic, insane, impossible. All those things and more. I don’t think it matters what your role in the event is–playwright, director, actor, organizer, volunteer, audience, etc–if you attend, you will be amazed! YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS IT!
See you at the castle!