Seeing a chance to work with my actor son, Travis, I suggested we both audition for seven/24, the 24 hour play festival produced jointly last weekend by the Tin Ceiling and (for the first time this year) The NonProphet Theater Company. I've been aware of this phenomenon for a while as well as similar festival in New York and probably elsewhere. I'd also acted in a 48-hour Film Festival entry in St. Louis. So I understood the crazy and chaotic day or two of work that goes into these things, and also the satisfaction that can come with creating something pretty good very fast.
We were cast in different plays, which mitigated the working together somewhat as the different plays rehearsed in scattered locations. But we both worked all day Saturday in our respective plays and hooked up in the evening as tech and final prep ensued.
The producers had to scramble, and, eventually, so did the audience. Expecting sizable crowds, the festival was scheduled to run not at the Tin Ceiling space on Cherokee, but in a warehouse space on Sidney Street near Jefferson.
But as I was leaving a run-through there late Saturday afternoon, I noticed a couple of uniformed St. Louis City guys walking in. “Shades of ArtLoft fire marshals,” I thought, and I was right.
They didn't allow the festival to move forward (wrong permits), so, just like that, it was moved back to Tin Ceiling, and tech and final run-throughs were jammed in. The evening's start was moved back to 9 pm to allow prep (and time for the audience to find us.)
They did, the shows went on, and it was a fun and exciting evening to cap off the somewhat crazy, chaotic day.
Trav's show was FISHBOWL WARMING by Suzanne Roussin and James Russell James, directed by Sarah Holt, and I think it was the best of the seven shows presented: tightest script, short enough to be directed/produced pretty tightly, and a consistently good cast, including Julie Schneider, Andrea Purnell and Elizabeth Bolhafner. The cast portrayed sea-going residents of a fish tank in a pet store, with Trav as a guppy, to his amazement turning into a frog. It was very funny.
The show I was in was LUCKY BREAK by Jamie Kurth and Robert A. Mitchell, directed by Ed Reggie. It was a tight, realistic short script about some guys visiting Vegas who've gotten into trouble via the usual suspects of gambling, hookers and loan sharks. The cast also included Richard J. Valenta, Warren Arnold, and Robert Strasser of the Tin Ceiling group. Our show went well, and I think the identifiable setting of a Vegas crime scenario played well in contrast to some of the more fanciful scripts of the rest of the evening.
In total, there were about 30 actors involved in the seven 10-minute (average) shows, as well as two writers and a director per show, plus running crew.
We played to a full house of an enthusiastic audience, who'd had to track us down to see us. Last Saturday night, I (and Trav, and I'm sure others) found as much excitement, passion and life on stage as I'm sure has happened anywhere lately.
Thanks to Tin Ceiling and NonProphet for the fun.