Having long been intrigued by the 24 hour play concept, it was a stroke of fortune that when I affiliated with The New School a year ago, I was provided with office space that is shared with the official 24 Hour Plays. While we occupy the same small spot, we’re not affiliated. That said, it’s impossible for us to not know what the other is up to much of the time. In proximity, I saw possibility.
Beginning at 9 pm on November 13 and continuing until roughly the same time on the 14th, I’ve been afforded access to every bit of The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway process, to report and photograph as I see fit. At this point, late morning on the 14th, it’s quite clear that I had no idea what I was tackling, in terms of numbers, time, space, and so on. It’s overwhelming. Photographing rehearsals taking place in three different buildings? Read-throughs taking place as other shows, barely read through, are on stage doing spacing rehearsals? Writing live blog posts and editing photos while keeping up? And I certainly didn’t have the stamina to stay through the night as casts were chosen and plays were written.
So this first post covers only the meet and greet on Sunday evening: meetings of old friends, actors approaching other actors who they’ve always admired but never met, staff getting necessary details to facilitate the compressed production schedule.
During the meet and greet, each actor, director and playwright introduced themselves, but they had also been asked to bring a item or two to contribute to the production, and a piece of clothing as well. They were also asked if they had any special talents they’d like to use, as well as anything they’ve never done on stage but have always wanted to do. Here’s a highly selective sample of images and comments from the meet and greet, but in the order in which they were spoken.
Justin Bartha, actor: “I can do an OK Jerry Seinfeld.”
Jason Biggs, actor: “I’m shite at accents.”
David Krumholtz, actor, contributed a framed image of the Mona Lisa with a cat head.
Joanna Christie, actor: “I just want to shout expletives.”
Paul Schneider, actor: “I’ll make you better by dancing.”
David Greenspan, actor: “I can jump rope for 20 minutes straight.”
Michael Chernus, actor: “I’ve never played drunk, but I’m afraid of that.”
Marin Ireland, actor “I’ll take what you throw at me.”
Bess Wohl, playwright: “I didn’t know about bringing a costume, so…nudity.”
Hugh Dancy, actor: “I’m not a bad whistler.”
Shakina Nayfack, actor: “I’m a trans woman, but I’d like to just play a woman.”
Olivia Washington, actor: “I can make shapes with my tongue.”
Ukweli Roach, actor, brought a “Max onesie” from Where The Wild Things Are.
Alicia Witt, actor: “I can do whatever you throw at me.”
Warren Leight, playwright: “I was here 10 days after 9/11. We’re in the right place tonight.”
Carolyn Cantor, director, brought a pair of angel wings.
Rachel Dratch, actor: “If you need a big dramatic moment, I’m not your woman.”
David Lindsay-Abaire, playwright, brought a giant prop meat cleaver and an evil clown mask.
Genevieve Angelson, actor: “I’m really good at giving a bat mitzvah girl a speech – ‘You haftorah was amazing!’”
Grace Gummer, actor: “I brought a guitar, but I can’t play it.”
Anson Mount, actor: “I’ve always wanted to play Joel Osteen…he is smooth. Or Rasputin.”
Jenna Ushkowitz, actor: “I can do a baby sound with my voice.”
Julie White, actor: “I’ve worked with a lot of fake babies.”
Michael Cerveris, actor: “I’d like to get to the end of the play with the girl, ideally alive.”
Justice Smith: “I’d like to play a sociopath who falls in love, or an old person in a young person’s body.”
Christopher Oscar Peña, playwright, brought a Marge Simpson rubber duckie.
Patricia McGregor, director, brought an hour-old piece of fried chicken.
Daveed Diggs, actor: “I fall really well.”
For rehearsal photos of plays by Warren Leight, Christopher Oscar Peña and Jonathan Marc Sherman, click here.
For rehearsal photos of plays by Hansol Jung, David Lindsay-Abaire and Bess Wohl, click here.
All photos © Howard Sherman