Could you write, direct, and produce a play that will hit Broadway in less than twenty-four hours? Well I’m sure just about anybody could, but would it be any good? That’s the concept behind 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, which celebrates its tenth annual production on Broadway next month.
While it’s a cliche to say that this year’s cast is bigger and better than ever, but in this case it’s absolutely true. This year, six writers and directors — including Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize, and Emmy Award winners — join up with some huge acting names from film, television, and, of course, Broadway to put on this year’s event, which will raise money for Urban Arts Partnership. Some of those big names donating their time include Jesse Eisenberg, John Krasinski, Megan Fox, Tracy Morgan and Woody Harrelson.
The entire whirlwind production is paid for by luxury pen and watch company Montblanc, as it has for the last five years. Montblanc North America CEO and President, Jan-Patrick Schmitz, explains his philosophy behind his company supporting such an event to the New York Post, explaining, “We have been supporting the arts since the beginning, writing instruments, literacy, it’s who we are, not what we do. Over the years, we have supported a lot of programs, but I became interested in 24 Hour Plays, because it is so unique in the sense that it brings in various aspects of the artistic process. The dynamics of various disciplines was very intriguing to me.”
The festivities begin on November 13, when the entire team with gather to work their magic to create six ten-minute plays for the live performance the following night at the American Airlines Theatre. How does that process work out? According to Schmitz, “We sit in a circle and say this is what we have always wanted to do and each actor gives a piece or two of inspiration, it could be anything, a piece from your kitchen or a shower curtain, then the teams get to work. The anxiety and nervousness is intense, but on the same note, while the pressure is huge, when it’s over and we get the thunderous applause, the stress is gone everyone ultimately says it was a great experience for a great cause.”
Urban Arts Partnership supports arts in New York City schools, which Schmitz believes is the true motivating factor behind the insanely quick working period. He explains, “The idea is motivating and exciting for the theater world at large, because it is an exciting experience at a very high level. It also puts a highlight on arts education, which has been the victim of budget cuts in schools. This event really asks is it [arts education] really so secondary in our schools and what impact can it have on our students.”