Thanks to all of our actors, writers and directors, last night’s 24 Hour Plays on Broadway was a huge success!
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, James McAvoy, Jordin Sparks perform in the ’24 Hour Plays’
Shaina Moskowitz, Manhattan Events Examiner
November 21, 2013
Ever wondered how much could be done in 24 hours? If you thought of sleeping, work, and maybe some laundry, you are clearly an underachiever compared to these geniuses. In a matter of exactly 24 hours, a brilliant set of actors, writers, directors, and a group of students come up with six plays. From lighting to rehearsing it was all ready to go in just one day. On Nov. 19, the performances brought laughter both to the audience and fellow actors who admitted to seeing some of their peers’ completed plays at the same time as the audience. The Montblanc 24 Hour Plays included students from the Urban Arts Partnership, which focuses on educating youth in New York about the arts, leadership, and necessary tools to succeed. The young Devin Mojica was admitted on a full scholarship to NYU Tisch thanks to the partnership.
The merger of students and professionals was so well done, that the crowd wondered if some of the students were famous artists as well. From poems, to songs, and even comedy, these plays had it all. The first play, “An Afternoon With Doctor Pennebaker,” brought laughter to everyone. Jason Biggs, was hilarious in his Mickey Mouse t-shirt and innocent boyish look. The play was about a man who discusses his girl problems with his therapist. He has endured so much rejection in his life. Soon after, the doctor leaves the room, and lets two women come talk to the patient believing he was the therapist. With a passionate ending between Jennifer Westfeldt and Ben Shenkman, this play proved to be a tough act to follow.
Nevertheless, the crowd’s favorite seemed to be the “Cat Lady play.” With SNL Rachel Dratch, and Hill Harper, Griffin Dunne, and Gina Gershon as her cats it was too comical to be true. It even got better when Bryan Greenberg got his shirt ripped of by the cats, and the entire audience enjoyed his perfectly athletic physique. The celebration didn’t stop there. The crowd headed to B.B. King’s Blues Club to a dance party that had famous celebrities, the Montblanc team, CEOs, and students all dancing to the beats of D.J. Quest Love.
Q: Where did the interest of supporting Urban Arts Initiative begin?
Jan Patrick Schmitz (president and CEO of Montblanc North America): The interest started not with Urban Arts Partnership but with 24 Hour Plays. Eight years ago when we supported it for the first time, I didn’t believe that 24 hours prior to the play nothing existed. So I was sitting in this very room eight years ago on Sunday night at ten o’clock and I realized “oh gosh nothing exists yet!” And I quite frankly panicked a little bit knowing that we associated our name with these plays and I thought, “Oh god when the curtain goes up Monday night at eight o clock I’m not sure what will happen,” but I had a fantastic experience. The level of creativity, the skills of everybody involved from the actors to the play writers, the directors and stage managers, everybody is pulling it together. It is truly a unique community because not only do they give their best, but it exposes themselves and they have to be very brave. They can’t rehearse for weeks and weeks to achieve perfection. Some of them are theater actors that may probably be more used to it but some are screen actors and they are used to re-takes and re-takes, but here they are on stage…Montblanc was established in 1906 and it has been connected to the arts since day one. That’s who we are and that’s what we do. So we got more and more engaged with the [Urban Arts Partnership] by not only providing funds, but personally I help with a program called master classes and I’m an avid photographer myself, so I go to the schools and teach some of the classes. The idea here is to get an expert to share his or her experience and give some feedback. I have done it for many years and it is very rewarding. We are bringing students tonight on stage.
Q: What can we expect tonight?
Philip Courtney (UAP): You can expect a lot of jokes, hopefully some mistakes, hopefully some actors will forget their lines and hopefully you have some moments of brilliance. These actors have been on their feet from nine am learning their lines. You might see some really really good plays. Some times it takes years to write a good play and some times it takes hours. In six hours you can write a masterpiece and hopefully we will see that tonight.
Q: What’s next for the Urban Arts Partnership?
Philip Courtney: The next 24 Hour Plays will be in the spring in Los Angeles. We will be rolling a campaign about how important is to bring back art education to schools.
Q: What do you think is the single most important subject students should learn?
Philip Courtney: I think you have to be fluent in yourself so we work with a lot of recent immigrant students and one of our programs is story telling program which helps them embrace their culture heritage and where they come from and it teaches them English and both of those things are very important. Reading and writing is essential you cannot move forward in this world if you cannot read or write. There are ways the arts can help catalyze that kind of learning.
Q: How many times have you done this play?
Ben Shenkman: Five times on. I’ve been doing it for a while.
Q: Do you think the writers have a specific actor in mind when writing the plays?
Ben Shenkman: Well sort of, by the time the writers arrive they know who their cast is. So it is written either for you or to give you something to do.
Q: What is your favorite part about this experience ?
Ben Shenkman: One of my favorite parts was when one of the actors in our show forgot some his lines, and although he felt bad about it I always find that enjoyable…and the few times that I’ve done this that someone forgets their lines I think everyone kind of enjoys it and I enjoy it.
Q: Which one was your favorite play?
Zachary Levi: It was a tough call between the one with Jesse as the mouse in the party and Rachel Dratch and the cats. Those two were super funny.
Q: What was your favorite part of this experience ?
Katy Najimy: I got to direct tonight and it was the first time I have directed, I usually acted in them. I loved it thoroughly from moment one I didn’t even get a chance to pee the whole day. It was so fulfilling I got to work with brilliant actors and I got a Pulitzer prize winning writer.
Q: What was your favorite part of this experience ?
Michael Kenneth Williams: Everything! I loved everything about this process, but I would have to say that watching the kids be a part of this. You know the young people that came and did the poem, the young lady who sang, and the writer who won a scholarship to Tisch at NYU.
Check out more of our press coverage here:
James McAvoy, Taran Killam Talk 24 Hour Plays’ Challenges, Rewards (The Hollywood Reporter)
Star Studded 24 Hour Plays On Broadway (www.playbill.com)
Zachary Levi, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and More Set for 24 Hour Plays on Broadway (www.broadwayworld.com)
Stars don crazy costumes for ’24 Hour Plays’ (Page Six New York Post)
Jordin Sparks: 24 Hour Plays After-Party! (Just Jared)
The 24 Hour Plays (Culture Horde)
Natalie Dormer, Sasha Alexander, Bryan Greenberg’s NYC Styles (ModernSalon.com)