Actors Morgan Peeler, Carissa Meisner Smit and Amy Gentry were randomly assigned to work with director Keith Gehrig at Phoenix Theatre’s 24 Hour Theatre Festival last year. (Phoenix Theatre)

Actors Morgan Peeler, Carissa Meisner Smit and Amy Gentry were randomly assigned to work with director Keith Gehrig at Phoenix Theatre’s 24 Hour Theatre Festival last year. (Phoenix Theatre)

Phoenix’s 24-hour play festival to showcase female talent

The theme of the third annual 24 Hour Theatre Festival, Aug. 24 and 25, is “Wonder Women.”

EDMONDS — Phoenix Theatre’s mad-cap festival of plays produced in 24 hours is back.

The 24 Hour Theatre Festival, featuring six short plays produced overnight, is Friday and Saturday at The Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds. The theme this year is “Wonder Women” because the playwrights and directors — 12 of them in all — will be female.

“The ‘Wonder Women’ theme of this year’s festival is especially exciting,” said Phoenix managing director Debra Rich Gettleman in a press release. “There are so many talented women in this area. We want to bring their talents and extraordinary skills to the (fore)front.”

These women will have just 24 hours to write and direct 10-minute plays, their fates decided from the draw of a hat. Literally.

Twenty actors, both male and female, will show up Friday evening wearing a costume and carrying a prop of their choice. In the past, they’ve shown up in an evening gown, dressed as a scarecrow or as an Elvis impersonator, with a plunger, a football or a teddy bear. It’s all up to their imaginations.

Directors blindly choose the actors, and playwrights are randomly assigned to each team. Some plays may get four actors, while others may only be assigned two.

Writers then go home to write short plays that are inspired by their actors’ characters. Some may stay up all night writing, incorporating each actor’s costume and prop into their scripts. Then, the next morning, they hand over their original plays to the directors.

It’s then the directors’ and actors’ turn to work. They rehearse the script on and off stage until that evening’s performance.

“You have to memorize the whole show in 10 hours,” said Amy Gentry, spokeswoman for the Phoenix Theatre. “As a writer, you have to be kind to the actors, so you’re not giving them two-page monologues to memorize.”

Both Gettleman and Gentry will be playwrights in the festival this year. Most recently, Gettleman played Catherine Simms in “The Foreigner,” and Gentry was Annette Raleigh in “God of Carnage.”

The audience is welcome to watch the behind-the-scenes madness Friday evening and then return for Saturday’s performance 24 hours later. Or just go to the festival of plays.

“We do this to get the community together,” Gentry said. “We want to bring them in, show them what it’s like behind-the-scenes, and just have a fun, wild time together. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s really fun. You’re seeing how these writers’ and directors’ minds work.”

If you go

What: 24 Hour Theatre Festival

When: 7 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Phoenix Theatre, 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds

Tickets: $20

More: 206-533-2000 or www.tptedmonds.org

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