The Year In Theatre
When the work day ends you are most likely to find me somewhere in the greater Seattle area at one of the many local theatres. By most likely I mean that in 2013 I went to 310 different things. Or, looking at it another way, 5.9 events a week. It’s crazy how the numbers stack up over the course of the year. That means that I probably see more shows than just about anyone in the city. With that in mind, one of the local theatre columnists did an interview with me looking back on the year that was. You can read that at The Stranger.
Bonus! The Stranger interview was released before I posted my top ten shows of the year. For the curious, here is the complete list. Should you find yourself in Seattle and looking for entertainment, this list of companies is a great place to start.
1. Undo – Annex Theatre
2. Compagnie Marie Chouinard – UW World Series
3. Two Rooms – Confrontational Theater
4. The Underneath – Annex Theatre
5. Paige Barnes Performances: Naked – Project Space Available
6. Catherine Cabeen And Company | Fire – On The Boards
7. The Taming – ArtsWest
8. A Beginning – The Pendleton House
9. Jesus Christ Superstar – Burien Little Theatre
10. The Totally True And Almost Accurate Adventures Of Pinocchio – Balagan Theatre
14/48 The World’s Quickest Theatre Festival
14/48 is one of the treasures of the Seattle theatre community. In a nutshell, it works like this: Thursday night, a group of actors/writers/directors/musicians/technicians get together at the theatre. They each put a piece of paper in the cone of destiny that answers the question: I want to see seven new plays about ____________. After the theme is drawn, the writers draw their slots and find out how many characters they have. Then they head home to write those seven new plays.
Friday morning everyone meets up at the theatre again. The directors and actors, also randomly paired, get the plays and set off to learn them as the designers, musicians, and technicians get started on hammering out the details. Twelve hours later, the show opens and the seven world premiere plays are performed.
Throughout the night, the audience can put their theme suggestions into the cone of destiny. After the show, a new theme is drawn and the whole process starts all over again. The writers head home and write seven more plays. Saturday morning those are handed off to the directors. And at 8:00 Saturday night there are seven more world premieres. It is a wonderful thing to behold.
Of course, the speed of the whole thing isn’t without its problems. Occasionally you will hit on one that just doesn’t work. The amazing part is how often it really does work. I’ve seen a lot of amazing things happen at 14/48. Occasionally, things that would probably never happen anywhere else. Ideas so crazy that they wouldn’t make it through the process of most short play festivals. But at 14/48, anything really does go.
If you would like to get an idea of what this all looks like in practice, you’re in luck. This past winter, the whole thing was filmed for a documentary. It’s still in the finishing stages, but they have released a teaser that gives a great look at the festival.