Presented by Play.Every.Day Actors Studio
Reviewed 13th October, 2018
This show is as close as theatre comes to being a blood sport. Six new one-act plays are presented in Cornerstone College’s Atelier Theatre in Mount Barker. A day ago the plays didn’t even exist. Here’s how it works. On Friday night, six playwrights, six directors, and a selected bunch of brave actors meet at the theatre. By a series of lucky draws, playwrights are paired with directors, actors are assigned to one of the six writer/director teams, and random topics allocated. The writers have until 6:00am Saturday morning (nine hours) to write their play and email it in. Directors get their scripts at 6:00am, and are back at the theatre an hour later to work with their allotted actors on the play until 8:00pm, when the curtain goes up and we see six new Australian one-act plays.
With this unique genesis, it’s no surprise that the plays are hugely dissimilar, with styles ranging from broad farce to high tragedy. There’s a curious prison sequence, a drag wedding party, post-apocalyptic ironing, a dead boy, a grieving mother and a creepy carer, an homage to RuPaul, and an abortive one-night stand at nana and grandpa’s house. The diversity was an entertainment in itself.
Actors of all ages and skill levels take part in this challenging event; their day’s rehearsal results in the blocking and direction of the show, and enables them to work without scripts that evening. Although this project is not for the faint-hearted, it certainly seemed that the actors relished the intensity of the challenge. To their credit, almost every one of them rose to the occasion.
There were both local and interstate writers – once the draws had been made on Friday night, emails were sent to playwrights Rob Lewis in Tasmania, The General Public Collective in Brisbane and Tommy James Green in Sydney, as well as local writers Kristen Doherty, Cameron Roberts and Michael Fazackerley. Knocking out a play in nine hours for a specified number of actors with the provocation of a specific topic isn’t everyone’s idea of the creative process. The resultant scripts were remarkable for their thoughtfulness, diversity and intricacy.
The six directors who brought these texts to life were an equally disparate bunch – Sue Wylie, Jo O’Callaghan, Lisa Waite, Adrian Barnes, Jo Hartog and Delia Olam. To receive a freshly-written play, understand its style, plan how to place it within the performance space, predict costume, prop and sound needs, and turn up ready to work at an ungodly hour of a Saturday morning is a lot to ask of any director. All directors produced an engaging, theatrically coherent play. Given a little more time, some of the pieces would have grown into a more fully realised form, but the structural bones of each show were clearly evident.
The set itself was a sight to behold – multiple washing lines of white cotton clothing covered the back of the stage, with associated blocks, props and set dressing.
The genius behind this project, the second of its kind in Adelaide, is Rachael Williams. Last year, she did the first, ’24.One’, in the same venue; this year’s full auditorium spoke to the success of last year’s work, and its excellent word-of-mouth in the town. Williams, a University of Tasmania performing arts graduate, has spearheaded a team of multi-skilled workers who made this whole event run brilliantly. Her assistant Creative Director, Holly Howard, her production/lighting genius Nivven Barlow, and her audio/music wizard, Moses Monro, together contributed to an act of theatrical bravura designed to promote new Australian writing, fast-thinking and inventive directors, and fearless commando-grade actors.
If Theatre Sports is a sprint, then ‘24.Two’ is its wildly entertaining marathon big brother.
Review by Pat. H. Wilson
One Night Only – Season Ended