Rebecca Naomi Jones read a monologue by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage during the May 12 edition of The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues, titled "COVID & Incarceration." Also performing separate monologues were Tony winner André De Shields and Jelani Alladin.
The program told real stories from those currently and previously incarcerated, their families, and the advocates serving them during this global pandemic. Videos streamed every 15 minutes on Instagram (@24HourPlays) and are now available to watch on 24HourPlays.com.
Joining Jones, De Shields, and Alladin as performers were Pascale Armand, Ato Blankson-Wood, Maggie Bofill, Madeline Brewer, Peter Jay Fernandez, Alex Hernandez, Aja Naomi King, L Morgan Lee, Deirdre O’Connell, Shakina, John Clarence Stewart, and Desean Terry.
Playwrights for the project included Nottage, Lemon Andersen, Hilary Bettis, Jordan E. Cooper, Michael John Garcés, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, Emily Mann, Roger Q Mason, DeRay Mckesson, Tony Meneses, NSangou Njikam, Liza Jessie Peterson, Shaka Senghor, and Stevie Walker-Webb.
"COVID & Incarceraation" is a partnership between The Broadway Advocacy Coalition, The Confined Arts, RAPP, Zealous, and The Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School.
The process began May 11 at 6 PM, when actors shared orientation-style videos to allow the writers to get to know them better. By 7 PM, writers and actors were paired, and writers went to work crafting new monologues specifically for their assigned actors, highlighting the experiences of advocates. The following morning, advocates got the first look at the brand-new monologues before the actors filmed their performances.
A recent edition of the viral plays played with form by having performers do a musical monologue, with Daveed Diggs, John Gallagher, Jr., Sarah Steele, and more joining in. Check it out here.