This past weekend I produced one of Theatre Unleashed's famous 24 hour festivals, this one titled Can't Buy Me Love. All of the scripts were based off of famous Beatles's tunes. The way these 24 hour festival works is that on Friday night at 7pm the writers get their topics along with the number of men and women in their casts. They have to send the scripts to me by 9am on Saturday morning. At 10ish we meet in a park where the directors randomly select scripts and then casts. We have the day to rehearse and the show goes up at 8pm the same night. Insane? Perhaps. But what we've learned is that it truly is a way to get our creative juices flowing and show Los Angeles just what we can do in 24 hours. This time as an added bonus I added stand-up comedians into the mix, interspersing plays and stand-up through out the show.
Now I have to admit the events that led to the anger and panic may very well be my fault. You see on Wednesday of last week, I found myself thinking, "wow, the planning has gone remarkably well, I have more actors than I normally have, the stand-up comics are confirmed, the publicity is out, the venue confirmed..." and then I actually said "This has really been way too easy." See I did it to myself, I taunted the theater gods and they weren't too happy with my flaunting how simple this was to put together.
Of course the theater gods like to keep you on your toes, they certainly won't give you too much warning. So like any respectable higher power they waited until two hours after the writers received their topics. Two hours after they were planning characters and writing outlines and that's when the gods delivered their first punch. An actor sent me an email excusing herself from the show on Saturday due to work conflicts. A few moments of panic, well more than a few, a good thirty minutes of panic and a few threats to cancel the entire show followed. Fortunately my best friend of over a decade (who is also the Director of Education for TU) let me rant for a while and then offered me the solution. Her husband, another of my best friends, was writing that night and had just started his outline. She suggested I call him and ask if I could knock an actor out of his script. He said that was fine. Erin: 1 Theatre Gods: 0.
I went to bed on Friday night thinking everything was fine. I had successfully won that round. Now I'm only left to assume considering the events of Saturday that the Theatre Gods really don't like to lose. Saturday morning, the actors and directors assembled, they chose scripts and chose actors and everyone went off to rehearse. And then I get a phone call, one of them has become severely ill and must be taken to the hospital by his roommate, who happens to be in one of the other plays of the day. So at 1pm I find myself down two actors. Erin: 1 Theatre Gods:2
The panic sets in. I heard from one of the playwrights who tells me it's fine to cut his script if we don't have enough actors. His message instilled a sense of resolve in me, not to be cliche but "The Show Must Go On" all scripts must be performed, I would not be defeated by the gods of the theater. That was simply not an option.
Enter my two show-saving actors. My best friend, the same one who saved the show the night before, stepped up and memorized two shows. Our artistic director also volunteered to perform in two shows that night. By then it was nearly 3pm. They had less than 5 hours to memorize two different shows with two different casts and two different directors. I never doubted they could do it. I never asked if they doubted they could do it. They just jumped in and did it. I should add the word flawlessly, they did it flawlessly.
A testament to the strength and talent inside our company, these two along with 9 other actors, four comedians, five directors, and five writers pulled off one of the best 24 hour festivals in our company's history. Watching the show from the booth, I could not have been happier. If we hadn't told the audience, no one would have known about the last minute switches. The entire evening was a complete success. So in the end while I hate to post the final score, I do believe that with much help from a talented pool of people I can declare victory over the theater gods on this one. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. I go into tech for our next show in two weeks and I'm sure they'll be waiting to duel again!