Reviewed by Lauren Donikian
What happens when you put a room of writers together from 7pm to 7am? Obviously, hilarity ensues, weird and wonderful ideas are brought to life and sleep deprivation can lead to some interesting choices. This is what happens in the first 12 hours of 24-Hour Party Playwright. As the name suggests, plays are written, directed, and rehearsed in 24 hours and are ready to be presented to an expectant audience. Six writers, six directors and 15 actors work together to create 6 new plays that are about 10 minutes long.
After a three-year hiatus, this event is part of Bondi Festival that will be running until the 16th of July. Locked in a room, 6 writers use what they can for inspiration. All they know is the cast that they will be able to use. Once their scripts are finished, they are passed on to the directors who have about an hour to read and get a feel for how they want the play to feel and look. The actors then come in and the play is workshopped until it is ready to be performed.
When entering the theatre there is a blue curtain, and a buzz in the air, as actors, writers and directors are talking amongst themselves and with friends before the plays are performed before their eyes. The front row consists of creatives and the cast with each play being presented by its director. They give an insight into how the process played out, what was involved and what helped them to portray the message that each playwright had created. After each play the stage is set and re-set with new props, seats, and lighting. Based on the play music and sound effects are used, but not all plays require this. It clearly takes a lot to put on a performance like this, so I tip my hat to all of those behind the scenes that are making everything happen and look seamless.
The six plays could not be more different from each other. One involved a cuckoo in a taxidermist, people meeting in a therapist waiting room, siblings performing an intervention on their mum, a relationship between a patient and her carer, brothers who have sinned and a praying mantis that loves Jamiroquai. They were wild, wacky, but also touching and honest. Some had cliffhangers that will remain unknown unless the playwrights keep working on the play, I also think that’s part of the fun! Allowing the audience to make up what they think could or should have happened will have them talking about what they have witnessed and revealing what they took from each play and how it made them feel.
What really helped was the chemistry between the actors, who had only worked together that day. To see this much passion and dedication from all involved only enhanced the good that this event can do for emerging artists. Whether on or off book, the actors really put all they could into their roles. There were different accents portrayed, a range of emotions explored in just 10 minutes and a fight scene which led to its actors running off the stage and around the room. It was inspiring to see such clever writing, such earnest performances and so much support from the audience. I couldn’t choose a favourite as I liked each play for different reasons, but what I will say is that I look forward to seeing 24 Hour Party Playwright in 2024.