The 24 Hour Plays in the Schools: New Design High School Intercession 2011: Sponsored by Montblanc

This year’s The 24 Hour Plays in the Schools: New Design High School Intercession 2011 was an incredible mixture of learning, chaos and excitement as the writers, actors and directors unified to again pull of a flawlessly executed performance. Over the course of 4 days, (6 hours a day, a true 24 hours) the writers wrote and tweaked, the directors read and staged and the actors memorized and performed.
All of this started off with some warm up games in preparation for the work ahead:Sound in Motion, Free Flow, Categories, Yes. Then, the first step of The 24 Hour Plays, The Orientation process took place at the Urban Arts office, uniting the actors and writers. Just like in The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, the writers and actors present props, costumes and skills, talents and stage aspirations.

                             The actors, writers and mentors warm up for the Orientation
Afterwards, the writers headed off to a quick playwriting class with Zac Kline while the actors went to a Master Class at Stella Adler Studios for an improvisation class with renowned teacher Noel Wilson. Some of the exercises included Kitty Wants a Corner, Gibberish, Working with the Invisible, and Relationship Discovery. Meanwhile, the writers hunkered down for short form writing based on the information (and inspired by props and costumes) given to them by the actors. Several tweaks and rewrites later at 6pm, after a whole day of working, the writers turned in their plays: Tha Catholic Skewl Gurlzby Maxine Batchler, Date Night by John Martinez and As Friends by Jorge Garzon. Manny Minaya and Maynor Alas, both alum of New Design High School, Urban Arts Partnership LifeStories program and of The 24 Hour Plays in the School program, served as mentors to the new writers.

                           Writer Jorge Garzon and mentor Maynor Alas work on their play
Day Two had the writers and actors reuniting for a script reading, questions, clarification and more revision which yielded final scripts. Theater Teaching Artist, Michelle Slonim lead the following activities to help the actors hone their improvisation techniques and embody their characters in preparation for the directors: Count Down, Yes, Tableaus inspired by Scripts, Character Creation, Park Bench, Character Interview, and Scene Improvisation.  All participants then went to see The Fantasticks at the Snapple Theater. Students completed a worksheet on character exploration, marked down the character work and skills used on stage that they wanted to replicate in their performances.

                         The writers, actors and mentors work through their scripts on Day 2
This year’s guest directors, Rosie Perez, Justin Bartha and Linus Roache came in early on Day Three and begin work-shopping the plays, putting the students through the wringer. The staging, blocking and of course, memorization are key in this stage and the directors wasted no time in drilling the plays non-stop for the next 6 hours.

Director Justin Bartha works on the play, Tha Catholic Skool Gurlz by Maxine Batchler

Director Rosie Perez makes adjustments to Date Night

                                                     Linus Roache directing As Friends

Day Four, the final day and only 6 hours from the performance at New Design High School, the actors came in with the appropriate wardrobe and props (presented during Orientation) and lines crammed into their minds. The plays are finalized and staged vigorously through the home stretch. In true The 24 Hour Plays fashion, rehearsal lasts up to and over the minute. Then finally, at long last and after 4 grueling days, the plays get their world premiere. Tha Catholic Skewl Gurlz, directed by Justin Bartha, featured a pair of students attempting to start up their own pop group, (the plays namesake) but one member is a neurotic mess with a phobia of betrayal and unsealed water, while the other scrambles for a third member, one hopefully more emotionally stable and reliable.As Friends, directed by Linus Roache, pitted one girl against another with a misunderstood boy in between them, with the two girls vying for his love and attention, even as he explains that his friendship to them is nothing deeper and the supposed dates and anniversary gifts are nothing more than friendship. The final play, Date Nightwas directed by Rosie Perez and has two slackers cleaning up and talking girls as they close the store they work at. When two girls come back to recover their purse, the guys attempt to make a move on them, with mixed results. In between each performance, we had some incredible performances by the New Design Cabaret Club.

The final performance of Tha Catholic Skool Gurlz, with Director Justin Bartha on the wing with lines

                                  Linus Roache sets the scene for Jorge Garzons As Friends

Rosie Perez introduces the final play, Date Night

Each year gets better and better, and this year was no different. Some of the young actors from this years Intercession have never acted before, but they blew us away all the same. Below you’ll find the young actors names and other details in the program. There are plenty more The 24 Hour Plays events to come this year, so stay tuned!