Theatre project One Night Stand is designed to be low-obligation, short-lived and probably full of awkward moments.
What do you get when you put three lawyers in a room? A really well-organised One Night Stand.
It sounds like the premise of a bad joke, but this is exactly what happened when Delia Cormack, Tom Simcock and Jonathan Lewis got together about eight months ago.
The three young Auckland lawyers have created a new kind of play festival, called One Night Stand, where teams have just 24 hours to write, direct and perform original 10 minute scripts (think 48 Hour Film Festival except half the time and live on stage).
Delia, Tom, and Jonathan say since becoming fully-fledged lawyers, they haven’t had the same opportunities to flex their creative muscles as they had in their student days.
“We were thinking that it’s pity that there’s no low commitment way to be involved in theatre in Auckland,” says Jonathan. “We wanted to create a show that we would want to perform in.”
Just like the name suggests, One Night Stand is designed to be low-obligation, short-lived and probably full of awkward moments. It’s happening at The Basement Theatre in Auckland next month and 15 teams of actors and actresses have already signed up to take part.
“It’s appealed to a whole range of people which was exactly what we were going for,” says Tom.
“Really established people on the theatre scene have signed up as well as total newcomers. They’re really excited to give it a crack and they get to do it on an actual stage in front of an actual crowd.”
The teams are allocated a night to perform, with five teams each competing on March 5, 6 and 7. In the morning they will be given elements - a common line, a character and a theme unique to their team – and they then get to work creating their masterpiece before performing it to a live crowd that same night.
Tom says One Night Stand gives people a chance to produce and perform without having to shoulder the financial burden or do any of the arduous planning that comes with the territory.
In university, Jonathan and Tom produced and directed the Auckland University Law Revue, an annual comedy show written and performed by law students. A few years later, Tom met Delia while working in a law firm and introduced her to Jonathan soon after.
Delia is no stranger to the performing arts. As well as producing theatre throughout university, she worked on a national tour of Verbatim - plays about some of New Zealand’s most marginalised voices - around schools and prisons.
At Canterbury University, Delia was part of 24-hour festival with theatre group Dramasoc and thought “we should do this up here”. The trio started meeting regularly to hash out a plan, but weeks of talking turned into months and the preparation started to get out of hand.
“We put together a proposal that ended up being about 10 pages long and submitted it to The Basement Theatre,” says Tom. “The formatting on that document was killer!”
“They were absolutely staggered at the length of this submission and I’m pretty sure they didn’t even read all of it,” adds Delia.
Tom says emails are a lawyer’s art form and with the three of them together, hundreds of emails, Word documents and PDFs were passed around their inboxes. Delia says since it was their first time putting on something together, they “wanted to go too far instead of too little”.
As lawyers, we’ve been trained to think about all the things that could go wrong and we’re always picking holes in stuff,” says Delia. “But even if they go on stage and freak out, that’s kind of part of it. It’s an experiment.
Towards the end of the 2014 the team started hunting for financial support, but after putting together a sponsorship proposal (nearly as long as their initial one), they realised they hadn’t planned for how tricky it would be.
“People don’t sponsor things in December,” says Jonathan. “While we had some interested people, it was just the wrong time of year.”
“We were even thinking about calling the project Exeunt, Pursued by a Bear, after one of the most famous Shakespearean stage directions because we thought we could get beer sponsorship. It was a terrible idea.”
The producers never expected to make any money from the project and they’ve forked out dollars from their own pockets to keep the project ticking. They’re hoping to recoup the costs from ticket sales and a crowd funding campaign that’s close to reaching its target.
The team have also got word that the Wallace Foundation will help out in the case of any shortfalls. The foundation was established by Sir James Wallace to foster and advance the arts in New Zealand.
Others in the arts community have stepped up too and the Auckland Theatre Company has offered One Night Stand complete access to their costumes and props.
“It’s like the best op-shop you’ve ever seen,” says Tom.
“Yeah, it’s like the warehouse at the end of Indiana Jones, just a giant space full of interesting stuff,” adds Jonathan.
There is no denying that the project is well-planned but with live theatre, there are always parts you can’t guarantee.
“As lawyers, we’ve been trained to think about all the things that could go wrong and we’re always picking holes in stuff,” says Delia. “But even if they go on stage and freak out, that’s kind of part of it. It’s an experiment.”
“The Basement is the kind of community that would be supportive if the wheels fell off, they won’t cut you down,” says Jonathan.
One Night Stand could be brilliant or maybe it’ll be a hot mess. Either way, you can watch it all go down at The Basement Theatre in March. Tickets are on sale at iTicket for $15.