I am not what anyone would call an experienced theater director. I have only two shows under my belt, both within the last two years. Basically, I'm making it up as I go, with only my years as an actor working for great directors to guide me. The upcoming 24/Seven Theater Project will not only be a huge test of my "skills," but will feature a selection of the finest playwrights, directors and actors in Central Oregon.
Seven playwrights will be given several prompts the evening of June 3. They have all night to write a 10-minute play, which is due around 4 a.m. to the producer, 2nd Street Theater's playwright in residence, Cricket Daniel. "Directors will then show up at 2nd Street Theater around 6 a.m. Saturday, June 4," explains Daniel. "They will pick from a hat one of seven plays and that is the play they will direct! They will then pull from a hat their cast. They will read their selected play, block it and make a Prop/Wardrobe/Set Piece List. Actors at 8 a.m. arrive. Directors will assign roles, table read and move right into rehearsal. All day long they will be blocking, rehearsing, memorizing lines, etc."
The twist: Each play will be performed that night at 2nd Street Theater. Twice! Lines will be memorized, lights and sound ready and directors like me will shine because of the amazing skill of the local talent.
As producer, Daniel will have to make sure each aspect of the project goes off without a hitch. "At 4 a.m. that Saturday, I will start printing off all of the submitted scripts and start working on the programs to be handed out that night to audience members," says Daniel. "By 6 a.m., I'm meeting with all of the directors. All day I will be chasing down props, set pieces and getting everything ready for the two performances that night. Of course, I will have wonderful people helping me, but I do think my day will be quite stressful. There's a lot of moving parts."
My nerves kick in. What if a director doesn't connect to the script they draw, or an actor is having trouble memorizing lines so quickly? Six in the morning? What even is that?
Actress Miranda Rose is much more laid back than I. "I'm not very nervous, but I am excited," she says. "It's something I've never done before and it's also something Bend isn't used to seeing, either. Going into it, I plan on getting plenty of rest and arriving with a motivated attitude." How dare she attack my nerves with calm logic and reason!
Director Sandy Silver, a veteran of innumerable productions, is also confident. "I am always a little nervous when going into a new project, but with 24/Seven, I am more excited than nervous," she says. "This is total creativity for all involved. I don't think I have a game plan except to do the best job I can, do justice to the playwright, and for all of us to have a blast! And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee."
Playwright Ben Larson must be nervous, right? He has to create believable characters and a compelling story overnight. "Nope, I don't get nervous," says Larson. "I've participated in events like this before, and they're always a lot of fun. Also—and this is purely selfish—because it takes such a long time to bring a full-length piece to life, sometimes the idea of completing something within 24 hours is incredibly attractive."
To top it all off, 2nd Street Theater received a grant from the Deschutes County Commissioners to "help us be able to create a video documentary and for general support of the project." So now there will be people with cameras to catch my flop sweat and daylight night terrors!
All joking aside, the event will be one of a kind. In the same way audiences watch a street corner painter start with a blank canvas, 24/Seven will give everyone a chance to see something invented from scratch. Theater is so fleeting—even though the scripts will be around for a while, the unique combination of actors, directors and words will only be as lasting as my nerves.
The 24/Seven Theater Project
June 4, 6:30 p.m. & 9 p.m.
2nd Street Theater, 220 NE Lafayette Ave., Bend