In Case You Missed It: The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway 2013

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Anyone walking by the American Airlines Theatre the evening of Sunday, November 17th might have thought that a group of artists were moving in to take up residence. How else to explain the steady stream of actors, writers, and directors striding into the theater, loading down with bulging bags and oddly-shaped packages?

The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway process was about to begin.

After checking in and having their Polaroids taken, this year’s company joined the circle to share a few things. Boxes and bags were opened to reveal the props and costumes everyone had been asked to bring. Jordin Sparks brought a lightsaber with light and sound effects. Taran Killam raided the Saturday Night Live closet and came up with a bizarre, smiling orange costume. Karen Gillan, who recently shaved her head for a movie role, brought her own hair. And a clown theme emerged when an unplanned number of rainbow wigs and tutus made their way onto the pile. The actors also shared their special skills and any stage desires they have been harboring. When dared by Jason Biggs, James McAvoy proved he could do a handstand. Zachary Levi requested a death scene. And Natalie Dormer hoped that she wouldn’t be asked to seduce anyone. The team also met Urban Arts alum playwright Devin Mojica who would stay up all night with his fellow writers and poetry student Dasia Carr who would be composing haikus to introduce each play.

Once we made it around the circle, the actors were released to get a few hours of sleep.  Food was ordered, Red Bulls were cracked open, and the writers began writing the plays inspired by what they heard and the now teetering pile of props and costumes. By the time the actors returned in the morning, any panic attacks or cases of writers block were a memory – there were six freshly written plays ready to be rehearsed.

Six casts dispersed to the AKA Residences and corners of the American Airlines to rehearse all day, taking breaks only for fresh-brewed coffee by Intelligentsia, meals by Molyvo’s and Gather, and to be beautified in the Kevyn Aucoin and ECRU New York/New York Streets salon.  After a final and speedy tech run-through for each play, the curtain rose on our 13th annual Broadway benefit!

The evening was full of laughter and shock as a Diane Neal’s T-Rex terrorized Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Krysta Rodriguez as skittish party guests; Hill Harper, Gina Gershon, and Griffin Dunne slinked across the stage as territorial house cats; and Josh Lucas, clad in a banana costume, actually shaved his beard, all in front of a sold-out house of 750. The celebration continued at the after-party at BB King’s Blues Club & Grill where celebrities and guests drank cocktails by Disaronno and Absolut and danced the night away to set by DJ Questlove.

Of course, all of the shenanigans support UAP’s mission to close the achievement gap through arts education. Thanks to our sponsors (Montblanc, Citi, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Skadden Arps, HBO, Corcoran, and Scott Eichel); Benefit Committee; participating talent and tireless crew; and all the supporters who made it possible for Urban Arts to raise over $517,000 in one evening.

Our resident poet, Dasia has one more 17-syllable message she wants to share with you!

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