Lickety-Split Theatre: The 24 Hour Plays

A caboodle of actors, directors, and writers stage works in under a day.

Remember back, when you were but a tot, and your parents told you and your cousins to find something to do, maybe put on a play? By dinner time? Which was two hours away, at most? And the whole bonkers plan sounded incredibly achievable?

We tend to think in longer scope, as adults, when it comes to our projects -- a week, a year, a decade -- but not The 24 Hour Plays. The annual don't-blink production, which truly comes together over the course of a day, gathers together actors, directors, and writers who meet, plots, block, rehearse, and put on a big show just 24 hours from when the zingy scheme kicked off.

That means that on Thursday, June 19 at 10 p.m. "six writers, six directors, twenty-four actors, and a dedicated production team" will gather at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. A half dozen ten-minute plays will be written by 7 a.m. -- that's 7 o'clock in the morning on June 20 -- and two hours later the directing and rehearsing really kicks in. Then at 8 p.m. that night, blammo: The plays are up and running before a live audience at the Broad.

Surely it must be making the theater vignettes you staged as children look unrushed, right?

But the final product? Polished, professional, with the occasional charming burble here and there, as befits something that has come together in a day (with much of that day being an overnight). The 2014 cast includes Alanis Morissette, Gavin Rossdale, Gillian Jacobs, John Cho, Jason Ritter, and Rosie Perez. The scribes and helmers are of the starry, many-credit type as well, and all are accoladed and acclaimed.

As for the beneficiary? The 24 Hour Plays support the Urban Arts Partnership, which is "one of the nation's leading education organizations," an group that puts a focus on arts-integrated education programs.

A very worthy cause for a breathless extravaganza full of gumption and get-it-done-ness. Best of luck, fast-working teams.

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