NOTE: This post has been updated. Please refer to the update at the end of the post for additional information. Thanks.
Venue: Funky Little Theater, 2109 Templeton Road, Colorado Springs CO.
Venue: Funky Little Theater, 2109 Templeton Road, Colorado Springs CO.
Company: Funky Little Theater Company.
Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Date of Performance: January 10, 2015.
This is crazy. I’m not making it up. Here’s the official description of 24Seven at the Funky Little Theater Company:
24SEVEN is a 24 hour theater project in the ever blossoming theater scene in Colorado Springs. The process entails enlisting SEVEN talented playwrights to create SEVEN brand new short plays within the allotted time the night before we produce them. They are given specific writing prompts to incorporate into their new works. Then, early the next morning, SEVEN visionary directors show up to read the scripts and cast them with TWENTYFOUR hand picked actors. The actors show up a couple of hours later and rehearse the day away, culminating in a ONE TIME ONLY performance of all SEVEN short plays. That's it! History has been made. Never again will all these playwrights, directors, actors (and crew) be in the same place doing the same thing.
It’s the equivalent of a theatrical “all nighter.” The 7 writers had from 8:00 PM on Friday until 4:00 AM on Saturday to draft, edit, revise, and finalize their scripts.
The 7 directors reported at 6:00 AM on Saturday to read pick, at random, their assigned scripts. Once their actors had memorized their scripts, they worked out the blocking, lighting, sound, props and every other detail.
The actors reported at 8:00 on Saturday to read through their script, work with the directors, memorize their lines, and rehearse the play.
Showtime was 7:30 Saturday evening.
It’s not quite improvisational theater, and it’s definitely not traditional theater. The entire process is compressed into a single 24 hour period. Each play is limited to 10 minutes; each playwright must use the specific writing prompts they are given. The result is minimal set pieces, minimal props, minimal technical effects, and maximum creativity. It’s extremely challenging for the participants, but a truly unique experience for the audience.
This is the fifth time Funky has done 24SEVEN, which I think makes it a habit. Or a tradition. Or an obsession. Take your pick. The local coffee shop provided caffeine early Saturday morning to help revive the bleary eyed.
So how well did it work? Surprisingly well. As one might expect, it was somewhat uneven at times; seven shows produced in 24 hours is bound to have some rough spots. That said though, there was only one performance I didn’t really care for. Four were very good, and the two others were adequate. That’s an amazing batting average under the circumstances.
The Vault was the audience winner; it got the most votes of the seven performances. It was a hilarious, sexy take on the creative process as “The Muse” provided inspiration to a guy with writer’s block. I expect the fear of writer’s block and the cruel deadline was some of the inspiration for the playwright. At 10 minutes, it was arguably much too short. The script has the potential to be expanded into a full sized work.
Muhammed Laughed was not just articulate and tense, but also urgent. With references to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a small theater is threatened by a terrorist. Given that the Paris massacre occurred a mere two days before the writers reported, Muhammed Laughed could hardly have been more timely.
If I had to pick one work that was perhaps a little too ambitious for a 10 minute script, it would be Just a Tad Crazy. It was written as a comedy, and there were indeed some pretty hilarious moments. However, with themes of immortality, cannibalism, and gratuitous violence, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the issues as presented. I do concede, though, that it certainly was a “tad crazy.”
24SEVEN is as much about the process as the performance. The entire creative operation is compressed into a single day, requiring extraordinary focus from everyone involved. Whether the final performance is a finished product is somewhat less important than how that performance was created. Given that all live performance art is fleeting, making the process equally short lived gives the experience a sense of urgency.
I marveled at what I witnessed. Like an ice sculpture on a sunny day, the entire creation evaporated into thin air in the space of 24 hours, never to be seen again. The local avant grade theater fans were there in abundance; the performance was sold out. The 7 plays were engaging and highly entertaining, despite the brutal deadlines.
24SEVEN is one of those unique experiences that carry great risk but also offer great rewards. I have seen nothing else like it. Make no mistake. This is theater on a high wire, working with no net. The Funky Little Theater is an incubator for innovation, generating creativity in 24 hour increments. For that, they have earned my respect and support.
If this was a typical 24SEVEN, I wouldn’t recommend 24SEVEN for young kids. There were handguns, violence, adult language and adult situations. It’s safe to say that the content is unpredictable, which should be ample warning that there could be some less than kid friendly moments.
This is a new venue for Funky, and the folding chairs are challenging. There were 5-6 rows of them. Most of those rows are on the floor; only the last row is on a riser. The sight lines are not very good unless you are in the first row or the last row.
This production is closed; it was available for one performance only.
The next 24SEVEN production is scheduled for Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 7:30 PM.
Pre or Post Show Dining Suggestion:
OK, it’s not really for dining, although they have beer and pretzels, some food trucks, and you can get takeout. It’s the Gold Camp Brewing Company at 1007 S. Tejon, Colorado Springs. It just opened at the beginning of January. Co-owners David Shaver and Sarah Shepard-Shaver have been in the business before; David was a co-owner of Brewer’s Republic until the partners sold the business. If you’re wondering why I’m recommending it, here’s the scoop
1. It’s an easy 8 minute drive to or from the Funky Little Theater.
2. Craft beer. No brainer.
3. Sarah Shepard-Shaver is a big part of the creative force behind the Springs Ensemble Theatre. She’s a partner at Gold Camp Brewing Company. I’m linking drinking beer to supporting the local theater community. It works for me.
PHOTO CREDITS: Funky Little Theater Company.
Producer: Chris Medina.
1. Cricket Daniel, Love Thy Neighbor, directed by Roman Gifford.
2. Jenny Maloney, What Happened Last Night in Detroit, directed by Keith Rabin, Jr.
3. Timothy Phillips, Banana Split & Fruit Fly, directed by Drew Frady.
4. Jordan Matthews, The Vault, directed by Krista McCann.
5. Roy Ballard, A La Carte, directed by Jeremiah Miller.
6. Warren Epstein, And Muhammad Laughed, directed by John Ridge.
7. Sean Verdu, Just a Tad Crazy, directed by Jessica Weaver.
1. Love Thy Neighbor:
Jonathan Rivera, Grant Langdon, Hilary Hudson.
2. What Happened Last Night in Detroit.
Jessica Parnello, Ryan Potter.
3. Banana Split & Fruit Fly.
Jennifer Westrom-Crabtree, Jonathan Herrera.
4. The Vault.
Kyle Urban, Sallie Walker, Kaitlin Porter.
5. A La Carte.
Dustan Harrison, Chelsie Rigor, Alex Erin Johnson
6. And Muhammad Laughed.
Jareth Spirio, Sean Verdu, Carrie Cheney.
7. Just a Tad Crazy.
Kala Roquemore, Monica Erck, Valiant Pico.
UPDATE JANUARY 13, 2014:
I MAY NOT HAVE PROPERLY CREDITED THE CORRECT 10 MINUTE PLAYS IN THE ABOVE POST. ANY ERROR WAS UNINTENTIONAL, AND DUE TO THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF TAKING NOTES DURING A PERFORMANCE. APOLOGIES TO ANY AND ALL PARTICIPANTS WHOSE WORK MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PROPERLY RECOGNIZED ABOVE.
PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS FROM "A P" BELOW TO GET A DIFFERENT, AND PERHAPS BETTER, TAKE ON THE PROPER CREDITING OF PERFORMANCES.