Five professional plays to stage in 24 hours

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Marketa Dowling set the challenge

NOT HIGH concept, but what a concept. Patented too, by the 24 Hour Plays Company of New York. Consider ‘time limited theatre’, a play or plays conceived, written, cast, produced and staged over two sweeps of the 12 hour clock. And it’s coming our way….

Belltable:Connect curator Marketa Dowling, who programmes Belltable performances, festivals and films, is the initiative behind Limerick’s first ever fully professional commitment to the challenge. She is relishing the role of producer for the five 24 Hour Plays that will emerge overnight on Friday January 19 from a start point of 10pm, everybody having assembled for introductions at 8pm.

We the audience will sit in to the freshly staged anonymity and novelty of these works on Saturday 20, 8pm. They will be bound together by an impressive line up of writers, directors, techies and actors, more than 30 in all. The entire 24hr event will wrap after this “energetic and spontaneous” suite of plays roll out, each at most 12minutes in length.

Dowling takes Arts page through the skits and giggles, many a chuckle out her Czech accent as she elaborates. “All the people involved are professional, not students, doing it in 24 hours. It’s a first time for Limerick. We came up with a great list in the end, either established artists or those mid career or emerging”.

A significant connection to Limerick or having engaged with the Belltable over the last two years was essential. You’ll recognise the writers: Helena Close, Mary Coll, Mike Finn, Liam McCarthy and Paul McNamara.

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The directors are stand out, award winning: Ann Blake, Tara Doolan, Paul Meade, Terry O’Donovan and Joan Sheehy. Mags O’Donoghue is line producer and Marketa Dowling herself is producer.

“Everyone involved meets at Belltable at 8pm Friday. Everyone has to bring one prop and one piece of costume and these go into a common storeroom.”

Choosing the cast is by lottery, names from a hat and “every play will have three or four actors. The writers begin at 10pm in the Belltable Hub and the directors come in at 7am to work [on finished scripts]. Everything happens in “five different rehearsal rooms at Belltable. We want to keep it quite contained, keep an eye on them!”

Note that the playwrights have been sent off since 6am and their scripts handed over unsigned.

Clock this for a dream team of actors: Shane Whisker, Katie O’Kelly, Pius McGrath, Frances Healy, Jean McGlynn, Gene Rooney, Pat Ryan, Zeb Moore, Norma Lowney and more, many more. Each unit accesses the stage for one hour before the curtain goes up to give the technical team a chance to plot sound, light, effects, working with the director to realise their vision.

Book for this fright-night frolic at venue manager www.limetreetheatre.ie