14/48 by Joe Iano Photo

I made the choice to be an actor later in my life, so all of my experience and training has been in Seattle. Learning my craft here has been a wonderful experience. The Seattle theater scene is tight knit but also incredibly welcoming and I’ve seen and been a part of so many fantastic productions. One of the most mythical Seattle theater experiences is the 14/48 Theater Festival. Everyone has always been so full of excitement talking about it, I’ve heard so many stories about unforgettable performances and plays. Lo and behold, this winter I found myself being invited to be a part of the festival for the first time (thank you Amy Escobar!) so I thought I’d give you a little run down of what the experience was like.

The 14/48 Theater Festival is the world’s quickest theater festival, with 14 new plays written, rehearsed and performed all within in 48 hours. Playwrights draw the order their play will be in the line-up and the number of actors and spend all night writing a 10 minute play on a randomly drawn theme. In the morning everyone gathers and directors draw the actors for each play. Rehearsal goes all day and in the evening there are 2 shows of those 7 new plays. Then, after the shows a new theme is drawn for 7 more shows the next day. It’s a whirlwind.

Day 1: I arrived at ACT Theater loaded up like I was about to embark on a camping trip. I’m one who packs far too much to begin with, so knowing I was going to be in the theater all day into the night without any time to run out for supplies made me feel like I needed to be extra super duper prepared. Most of what I brought I didn’t need, ACT Theater took such good care of us. I could go on and on about the food, I get really excited about food, but basically they made sure every need was met so we could focus on working on our plays. Oh the plays! I got randomly drawn into two very different plays both by Scot Rigsby Augustson. The first night was a sweet play called “DIG” about an older couple dealing with memories and loss. Directed by José Amador with Kaleb Kerr, Ayo Tushinde and myself. The day flew by, with every minute dedicated to cramming lines in our heads, working out blocking and diving as deep into the pieces as we could.

Rehearsing DIG by Scot Auguston
Rehearsing DIG by Scot Auguston
14/48 by Joe Iano Photo

Now, I’m usually really good at memorizing lines, but I also do know that the best memorized lines will disappear the second you have a new prop/costume/scene/musical interlude etc and that was foremost on my mind standing backstage before our play went on for that evening’s first performance because most of those elements we don’t get until we are on the stage, in-front of a living breathing audience for the first time. So this wave of nervous anticipation rose in me like I was a fresh-faced actor about to hit the stage for their first ever show. They call those of us doing 14/48 for the first time Virgins, and I may or may not have started humming Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” to calm myself down. Then, before I knew it, the first and second performances of the first evening were done and we were all instructed to go home and sleep so we could do it all again.

“Dig” with Ayo Tushinde

Day 2. Oh my day 2. I went into the day more refreshed because I knew what to expect this time around. I got randomly drawn for another Scot Augusten play called “Out Damn Spot” about a young country girl coming to the city to perform in a run-down Cabaret. What can I say about this play, other than rehearsal flew by and my face hurt from laughing so much. Trying to keep a straight face on stage was my new challenge for the evening. Directed by Imogen Love, with Stacey Bush, Rob Jone, Kaleb Kerr (again!) and myself. We had far too much fun coming up with crazier and crazier ideas and making them happen. The shows flew by once again and before I knew it, the first weekend of 14/48 was over.

Out Damn Spot with Myself (left), Rob Jones, Kaleb Kerr, Stacey Bush

In conclusion, would I do it again: yes. If they decided to do this tomorrow I’d be in it in a second. It was everything I love about theater condensed into two days of madness. I saw so many interesting, funny, and moving shows and great performances from all the other actors. I left floating on a little cloud of happiness and spent the next day in bed with a 14/48 hangover after drinking one glass of wine at the after party because every little atom in my body got such a workout (especially my brain, also I swear the hangover wasn’t from the one glass of wine. I’m made of tougher stuff than that). It made me feel so appreciative for the theater community in Seattle, and all the people to come together to make events like this happen.

Check out more about the 14/48 Theater Festival and the other amazing 14/48 Projects at https://www.the1448projects.org