The Northampton 24-Hour Theater Project

Saturday, June 17 at 7 and 9 pm at Theatre 14, Smith College. Tickets are $18 general/$15 students in advance at Brown Paper Tickets or at the door (cash or check) $20 general/$17 students.
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Let the count-down begin to this spontaneous celebration of six freshly-written scripts come to life in a single day's rehearsal. Thanks to the focused efforts of actors, directors, stage managers, technicians, and crew, the project has been performed ten times before-- each drawing larger audiences of thrill-seekers to the immediacy and the sense of adventure built into these riveting short plays.

The night before the show, a “trigger line” of dialogue is revealed to six playwrights, as well as a description--minus names--of actors who will participate in each piece. At 7 am on Saturday morning, the playwrights bring the scripts to their respective directors who have drawn names from a hat. As directors and playwrights meet, the tech team gathers to identify the various props, costumes, lighting and sound needs that each play requires. And then, at 8:30 am, twenty-four actors arrive! As the clock ticks on, each group heads off to rehearsal rooms where they stage these developing works.

Several of the project’s most popular playwrights return this year: Meryl Cohn, Tom McCabe, and Phil O’Donoghue as well as the comic duo, Kelsey Flynn and Hilary Price. To complement the returning authors, the project welcomes writers Trenda Loftin, who has performed in the show several times, and Tomàs Roche, who got his start in playwriting at HCC before branching out to venues in Holyoke and Springfield.

For audiences who have not seen the project before, the concept may be unusual. “Oh, you mean like improvisation?” is a typical response. In actuality, all words spoken by the actors are entirely scripted. And yet the actors’ performances very much exude an ‘impromptu’ energy. There is ‘danger’ in the air! The audience essentially plays the part of a fully invested ‘midwife’ to these newborn creations!