The Players: Seven playwrights, seven directors, 23 actors and two documentary filmmakers.
The Playwright's Challenge: Based on four prompts, write a 10-minute play in 10 hours (due at 4am) and put the name of your play in a bag.
The Director's Challenge: Draw the play you're directing out of a bag (at 6am) and your actors out of a different one labeled by age range. Block out the play in two hours.
The Actor's Challenge: Show up at 8am, memorize lines, rehearse the play and perform it live (TWICE) in eight hours.
As a director, I'm nervous of failure, of not supporting the actors enough, or not doing justice to the script. My confidence level is on par with that of a little kid's first Thanksgiving at the grown-up table. Here we go.
6 am: As a writer with looming deadlines, I arrive at 2nd Street Theater on three hours of sleep. Life is pain. I will fail.
6:15 am: I picked Clinton Clark's name. He's a great playwright and our sensibilities will mesh well. This isn't so bad. I love coffee.
6:30 am: The play is called "Crullers." I haven't read it yet. Clark's computer crashed and he's re-writing it in the office.
7 am: A page!!
8 am: I have three pages and the actors are arriving. How can I cast them if I don't know how the show is going to end?
8:30 am: I cast it anyway!
9 am: We have four pages. This will be a fun challenge.
10:30 am: We have all the pages!
11 am: We're going to rehearse under a little gazebo in the parking lot.
Noon: It's over 90 degrees. My brains are little eggs that keep scrambling. Mmmmmmmm...eggs.
1 pm: I've helped the actors all I can. Now they just have to memorize the lines so we can get into the character work.
2 pm: They have so many lines. I couldn't memorize that many lines in eight hours. I can't remember people's names right after they tell them to me.
2:30 pm: The actors don't need me anymore. They have to get those words down. I'm very tired. I'll walk around and see if everyone else is as dead inside as I am.
3 pm: I see groups laughing. I see an actor with a look so sour on his face, I think there's a possibility of violence. I talk to actors who hate their scripts, directors who want to murder their actors, writers who are ecstatic they're getting to see their work produced a day after writing it.
3:30 pm: We're hitting a wall. Faces are blurry. The sun is a giant ball of flame designed to make the daytime a furnace of sweaty sighs and swamp ass.
4 pm: There are many more lines to memorize, but we can't do it anymore. We break until 5pm.
4:15 pm: I sleep on cement.
5:00 pm: We reconvene and run the show again. The script is good, the actors are on point, but there are so many words and not enough hours.
6 pm: The audience is arriving as we find out we will go first. That makes perfect sense. Wouldn't mind swearing at someone but don't have the slightest idea who deserves my ire.
6:30 pm: I introduce "Crullers" to the audience. I yell at them about something. I forget as soon as I do it. My actors take the stage.
6:45 pm: Well, they did the first two pages perfectly and then jumped to the end. They found the humor beautifully in the words, so even when they were searching, the audience laughed.
7 pm: I can barely keep my eyes open and these three actors are running lines again so their 9pm show can go off without a hitch. This dedication is overwhelming. I'm not crying, YOU'RE CRYING.
9:15 pm: There were some hitches, but it was better and still funny.
9:30 pm: Smiling. I smile because those two performances were a metaphor for the day. It might not have been perfect, but it was honest and pure. The event had its ups and downs, but the concept of creating something of fleeting beauty was amazing. Am I dead? Definitely. Would I do it again? Try and stop me.
See the winner of the 24/Seven Theater Project at:
June 17-July 2. 3pm & 7:30pm
2nd Street Theater,
220 NE Lafayette Ave., Bend