For the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown, The 24 Hour Plays On Broadway makes a live, in-person return at Town Hall November 21. The 22nd annual event sees actors, writers, directors, and production staff staging six never-before-seen new works, devised from scratch in 24 hours.
This year's performer roster includes Justin Bartha, Julie Benko, Julia Chan, Lilli Cooper, Willa Fitzgerald, Kathryn Gallagher, River Gallo, Joel Marsh Garland, Mamie Gummer, Jin Ha, Amy Hargreaves, Rachel Hilson, Alex Moffat, Talene Monahon, Okieriete Onaodowan, and Sarah Steele.
Past performers of The 24 Hour Plays told Playbill how much fun the event is. Such as Hugh Dancy (Venus in Fur), who said, "The 24 Hour Plays are an amazing thing to take part in. I was onstage with other actors a few nights after the 2016 election and alone recording a monologue a few weeks into the pandemic. On both occasions, I found something really uplifting and reassuring about potentially making a fool of yourself in front of a bunch of people. Coupled with the great work they do with students around the world, it’s something I’m very proud to be involved with."
The performs in The 24 Hour Plays have partnered with writers Mario Correa, Lily Houghton, Roger Q Mason, Michael Mitnick, Nikkole Salter, and Jonathan Marc Sherman; and directors Jake Beckhard, Victor Malana Maog, Kathleen Marshall, and Leigh Silverman. Together, these teams will create a new play in just 24 hours and perform them live.
Rachel Dratch (POTUS) has performed almost every year in The 24 Hour Plays and she's most often paired with playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (Kimberly Akimbo). They had a very close collaboration.
"One year I had a horrible hacking cough and [David] wrote it into the play," she said. "I think I had to put my gum in Sam Rockwell’s mouth? Later, I found out Sam caught whatever I had and was sick for a week or two. I do feel bad about that. Another time, David wrote a play where I had another couple over for dinner and I revealed I had baked my placenta into the lasagna. The audience had a roller-coaster reaction: scream, disgust, then laughter and we waited so long for them to finish. That was really memorable and fun. Once, someone forgot a line and David yelled it out from the back of the house, which is something you don’t usually see on Broadway!
"So yeah, The 24 Hour Plays are where I met David and later he put me in his play Ripcord! So I got a job out of it, as well as a Thanksgiving and many Halloweens at his house. The 24 Hour Plays gave me my Broadway debut. I started doing them in 2002 and I’ve only missed a couple since. I hope to be back next year!"
Proceeds will benefit The 24 Hour Plays' year-round activities, which include education initiatives with students in middle school to college, professional development for emerging artists, and more.
Said Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), who's also done The 24 Hour Plays multiple times: "My wife and I have been involved with The 24 Hour Plays for many years. It’s the only time we get to work together and they’ve been some of the most rewarding, exhilarating and loving experiences we’ve had as a couple. But it’s also taught my wife that 24 hours is the maximum amount of time she would like to spend working with me."
Said 24 Hour Play artistic director Mark Armstrong in an earlier statement. "Throughout this unprecedented time, The 24 Hour Plays artistic community has grown even closer—and even larger. Now, as we come together within the same four walls once again (and the same 24 hours), we’re ready to share what extraordinary artists can do in a single day. We’re grateful to Town Hall for helping us bring this long-standing New York City tradition to a larger audience than ever before."
For tickets, visit 24HourPlays.org.