SEATTLE REVIEW: Brief Shining Moments – 14/48’s Celebration Of Immediate Theatre

Published on January 10, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

Whenever I come to Seattle, I immediately check out the ACT Theatre website to see what new shows are gracing their stages.  Well, actually I have delicious Indian food (Daawat is seriously the best meal I’ve ever had in my life, y’all!), but I hit the interwebs soon after and I have seen some really great shows.  Shows that feature well-hewn craftsmanship, the performances and the physical space molded and perfected through weeks of rehearsal and tech.

That’s not what 14/48’s The World’s Quickest Theatre Festival, is all about.


One of the things I love about attending live theatre is the immediacy – you’re right there in the space with these actors, traveling with them on an emotional journey.  14/48 takes that immediacy and places it front and center: 7 writers, 7 directors, and 20-some actors all gather on a Thursday night to select a theme.  The writers go home and write seven 10-minute plays that night.  In the morning, the plays are assigned to the directors at random, and then they draw their actors at random.  They then have the rest of the day to block, rehearse, and score their plays with the 14/48 band (who also had several original pieces throughout the night) for shows at 8 and 10:30.  At the 8 pm show, a theme submitted by an audience member is chosen at random and the whole process starts over, with 7 new plays being performed by the same actors at 8 and 10:30 the next night.

Waters DianeThe next weekend?  They do the whole process over again with 7 new directors, 7 new writers, and a new crop of actors.

I had certainly heard of things like this before, with plays being written and staged in a matter of days; in the world of film, John Waters tells the story of creating an early film, The Diane Linkletter Story, the day that the news of her death appeared in the morning papers and having it on a theatre screen on the day of her funeral.  This, however, was my first opportunity to experience something, and the sheer scope of the undertaking was mind-boggling…and extremely exciting.

The theme for the Friday night shows of weekend 1 was “All Together Now” and featured plays by Julia Nardin, Eddie DeHais, Nick Stokes, Lamar Legend, Jessica Chisum, Allison R. G. Ross, and Scotto Moore.

The show started off with an emotional bang with Nardin’s Free Market, a dystopian flash where people needing a quick infusion of cash can sell their memories to rich patrons.  The most emotionally charged memories go for the highest prices, and while it may seem like an easy way to rid yourself of the pain of a mother’s passing or a lost love, what might we lose of ourselves in the process?  Directed by Julia Griffin, it featured the acting talents of Kiki Abba, Katya Landau, Monica Galarneau, and Carol Thompson.

Waiting RoomWaiting. was a fun, silly piece about three people waiting, and all of the things they do to relax.  As each one tries out a new activity, the others copy it (with varying degrees of success).  Soon, they are rushing from one activity to the next, flipping hats and juggling and dancing with umbrellas, until they finally reach a point where things take an absurdly strange turn.  My main reaction to this show was about our insatiable need to constantly entertain ourselves.  We can never just sit quietly and wait.  This piece was directed by ilvs strauss and featured Adrian Cerrato, Bob Williams, and Catherine Kettrick.

The third piece was the hardest for me to connect with; called Over Me, it featured 4 people in scrubs who took turns laying down in a wooden outline of a coffin while the others talked about Viking funerals and joining a sort of virtual world.  The narrative was disjointed, but there were some great visuals as the 4 characters struggled with online/virtual identity and the confines of the physical realm and the death of the body.  Featuring the acting talents of David Epley, Jen Nelson, Alyssa Kay, and Jake Ynzunza, the piece was directed by Amy Poisson.

TimerThe last piece before intermission was Legend’s Winning, featuring 4 characters who seem to be on some sort of Hunger Games style game show, trying to escape from a space without taking their hands off a silver briefcase.  When one is declared the winner and another gets the chance to steal, you see former friends turn on one another in the name of fast cash, with terrible consequences for the losers.  Winning was directed by Brandon J. Simmons and featured Daniel Chercover Alexander Samuels, Lauryn Rilla Hochberg, Lisa Viertel, and Kevin Lin.

LoveAct 2 kicked off with Chisum’s Pink, Brown, Yellow/Orange, and Blue, an oddly funny little play about three people who have come together to talk about their loved one, Blue, who seems to have embraced becoming a “blue meanie.”  It plays with the idea of coming out in a way that’s actually kind of clever in our current age of mainstream queerness, and features a cartoony villain who is undone through audience participation and an AM gold love song.  Pamela Mijatov directed Christi Cruz, Sam Read, Angela DiMarco, and James Weidman in this piece.

Pieces was a simple and sweet snapshot into the growing friendship between two women, one of whom is over-connected to the technology around her and another who is just a little out of step with the world around her.  The ending works a little too hard to be playful with the evening’s theme, but the interactions between the two are actually very lovely and illustrates how very different people can end up being very good for one another.  Kenna M. Kettrick and Imogen Love brought these two characters to life under the direction of Wiley Basho Gorn.

The final piece of the evening, Yr City’s a Sucker, took what could have been an annoyingly hipster setup (superfans setting up camp to be the first people through the doors for their favorite band’s concert) and twisted it to show the simple pleasures of connecting with people who may be very different from us but who share a common love.  Aimee Bruneau, Patrick Lennon, Val Brunetto, Kristina Sutherland Rowell, and Alyssa Keene performed with Mimi Katano directing.


At the end of the 8 pm performance, the theme drawn was “the seventh seal.” I was truly sad that I already had plans for Saturday night (Laser Lemonade at the Pacific Science Center, another event that may get a write up of its own!) as I can only imagine what twisted and delightful treats these talented artists would have concocted.  After seeing this collection of “fast theatre,” I am thoroughly in love with this idea.

Theatre should be immediate and it should be affecting, and while weeks of preparation and fine-tuning can produce wonderful theatrical experiences, this gutsy festival proves that those things are nice but not always necessary.  All of the pieces, despite their variety in tone and presentation, felt fresh and alive and they all had something to say that seemed very much of the moment.

And theatre, whether polished or produced on the fly, is all about moments.

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