Sunday, January 8, 2012

Next Saturday: Theater at the speed of light

Posted by on Sun, Jan 8, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Some people just work better under pressure. But for a local group of theater artists, 24SEVEN promises to raise that pressure to crazy heights.

Hosted by Springs Ensemble Theatre and produced by SET members Chris Medina and Jason Lythgoe, 24SEVEN is a unique new theater project that aims to see seven plays created and staged in just 24 hours.

Stopwatch

The clock starts ticking at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12. That's when the seven playwrights who've signed up for the insanity meet to receive their story prompts. (Disclosure: I'm one of the playwrights.) They're then released to their laptops and given until 4 a.m. to complete their plays.

But that's just the beginning. The producers arrive at 5 a.m. to read the scripts and start laying the groundwork for the show. The directors arrive an hour after that to plan casting and staging.

The actors finally roll in at 8:30 a.m., but they may have the hardest job of all: turning the playwrights' late-night scribblings into something coherent, meaningful and entertaining. And they've got just a few hours of rehearsal to do it in. The show opens and closes Saturday night, with performances at 7:30 p.m. and 10. (Yeah, that makes the whole thing more like 29 hours, but who's counting?)

Medina has already seen 24SEVEN achieve one of his goals: bringing the local theater community together.

"I have people coming from the Fine Arts Center family and people from the TheatreWorks family and people from the SET family and people from the TdA [Theatre ’d Art THEATREdART] family," Medina says. "So that's the heart to me, because a lot of those people don't get to work together on a regular basis."

With only 50 seats at each performance, the $10 tickets are likely to go fast. SET hasn't decided yet whether to sell them online or only at the door. But it's promised to keep everyone updated through its web site.

If 24SEVEN is successful, Medina hopes to make it a semiannual event, repeating the madness every January and July. At this point though, only one thing's for sure: Next weekend, Pikes Perk and Starbucks are going to do some serious business.

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