Academy Summer Program Kicks off with The 24 Hour Plays, Presented by Montblanc

This marks the 5th summer of implementing The 24 Hour Plays: Off-Broadway at the end of the Life Stories Youth Ensemble academic year and beginning of the summer intensive. The weekend, presented by our long-time partner Montblanc, is a great opportunity for our veteran students to partner with new members of the ensemble to showcase their talents, participate in team building activities & learn from industry professionals.

The creative process for The 24 Hours Plays: Off-Broadway began at 10am on Saturday, July 14th when a group of 4 writers (former UAP playwriting students) and 17 actors (new & longstanding members of the Life Stories Youth Ensemble) gathered at the Urban Arts office to work on writing and acting exercises with Urban Arts Teaching Artists Julia Grob and The New Group member Matthew Klein.

The program kicked off with an orientation to help the writers and actors prepare for the long weekend ahead. Each participant brought a prop, presented a special talent and divulged something that he or she has always wanted to do on stage.


The next team activity was a character generating workshop where each actor was given prompts from which to create a short monologue.

While the actors continued their ensemble building exercises, the playwrights began to get their ideas flowing. At the end of the day, the actors left the writers to draft and edit their plays. With the help of Matthew Klein, they began by continuously writing without pause for twenty minutes. They were then able to use that content to start drafting their final pieces.

On Sunday morning, Guest Directors Gbenga Akinnagbe, Gina Rodriguez, Raviv Ullman, and Michael Kenneth Williams joined the cast and crew at The Cell Theatre. Artistic Board Chair Rosie Perez also stopped by to give performance notes. Over the next nine hours, the plays were blocked, staged and rehearsed. The shows were performed at 7pm for a group of family and friends, it was a packed house!



46 Minutes

By Anthony Naranjo

Directed by Michael Kenneth Williams

Assistant Director Anthony Naranjo


Benjamin Phillips – Bradford

Kayla Robinson – Reese Peace

Hannah Dahm – Sarah

Maria Paredes – Lola

Krysten Washington – Lisa



By Chris Patterson

Directed By Gbenga Akinnagbe

Assistant Director Maxine Batchler


Isaiah Alicea – Fred

Frank Olea – Tony

Celine Cabrera – Rosa

Oladimeji Akinwande – Mark


Broadway Junction

By Anuradha Golder

Directed by Gina Rodriguez

Assistant Director Maynor Alas


Haskiri Velazquez – Scarlett

Shanasia Robinson – Katherine

Eunisha Tucker – Chelsea

Shawn Telesford – Taylor



By Jorge Garzon

Directed by Raviv Ullman

Assistant Director Diogenes Martinez


Ferdinand Oquendo – Ben

Roderick Velazquez – Marcus

Zierah Robinson – Stacy

Katherine Alba – Gwen


Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Montblanc, the staff and board of The New Group and Urban Arts Partnership, our Guest Directors, and our audience! Special thanks also to Nancy Manocherian, Kira Simring and everyone at The Cell!