NEW BEDFORD — It’s amazing what you can do in a single day.
For example, on a recent Saturday, the cast and crew of The Collective New Bedford wrote, rehearsed and performed four short plays in 24 hours.
“I think it’s really accessible for audiences,” said Kevin Mitchell, artistic director of the performing arts collective. “They want to come see it. It’s something exciting, and it makes people who wouldn’t go to the theater want to go see the theater.”
Mitchell said he got the idea from a friend in San Francisco who had been on a similar 24-hour performance project. “The project was not that format,” he added. “Instead, I worked on this process of something that I thought was true or in a longer form like a creative process for a play.”
For legal reasons, Mitchell said they call their one-day game a “1440” (the number of minutes per day). At 7:00 p.m. the screenwriters receive a prompt, at 10:00 a.m. the following morning the scripts are handed over to the directors who launch their play and start rehearsing at 11:00 a.m.
At 7 p.m., it’s time for the show at Galerie X.
“As artists, we yearn for words as a writer, we yearn for our emotions as an actor-director, we worry so much about blocking,” Mitchell said. “In this process, you have to let go of that. And you just have to do that.”
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By doing 1440, Mitchell said it helps artists eliminate their stressors around perfection. After producing a show in seven hours, it helps actors embrace the process more when they have four weeks or two months to prepare for a show instead.
1,440 minutes before the start of the show
On June 18, The Collective took part in their third and final 1440 of the season (with another scheduled for Halloween).
“It’s Day 1440! I love it. They’re so much fun,” said Nathan Mello, an actor who’s been in the majority of them. “It’s a lot of chaos trying to memorize all your lines.”
“It’s the unexpected. He comes along and doesn’t know or have any idea what you’re going to do,” added Sue Salveseen, an actress who is preparing to do a play about hiring a swinger. to spice up his character’s marriage.
Veteran ensemble member Katie Gregory said she was trying to get her cast to fully memorize the piece first. “When you can get rid of the scripts, you can kind of have more fun,” she said.
“It’s 80% memorized, 20% improved. There are things you don’t know if they’re going to work until you do them with people there.”
Audrey Maigrett, another veteran performer, said she had done all but one of the 1440s. “My process is to feel it. Be loose,” she said. “I feel great right now. Immediately before show time, I’m going to want to vomit.”
Joe Mort, who has starred in some 1,440 projects, staged his first play this Saturday. “It’s a hilarious, dysfunctional family. So I think it’s going to be comical…or not. I don’t know yet,” he said nervously.
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“It’s just a lot of dialogue and a lot of quick phrases. So there’s a lot to memorize. We try our best, but no one in the audience will know if we’re wrong thankfully.”
Mort said he was very excited to play the mother character as well. “It’s my dream. To play my mother on stage. Are you kidding me?” he said.
The prompt for this 1440 was Frank Zappa’s quote, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”
Adriana Misteroni, who penned a piece about finding a talented star to put her musical on the map (with the hilarious line, “New Bedford today, Fall River tomorrow”), said she just thought to fun things to see his friends do in relation to the prompt.
“I love doing it. I want to see someone else take it. When I’m done, I sign. It’s done. I’m excited to see what they do with it,” he said. she declared.
Perform at Galerie X
Surrounded by Gallery X’s art exhibits, the cast members say it only enhances their own art during the performance. “It’s so great that we have this,” Brie Riccio said. “It’s young people coming together, whether it’s dark comedy, light comedy or all-out physical comedy.
“It’s so great to see people making art.”
Gallery X volunteer Eileen Riley said she loved listening to the actors rehearse in the space. “They’re great. And they’re a good group, they work well together,” she said.
Riley said she once mistakenly believed an actor told her to “shut up” during a rehearsal. But it turned out to be a line in the script. “They were so embarrassed, but it was funny. We had a good laugh,” she said.
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After the 7 p.m. performance, the actors take an hour break to relax, hang out, and drink. (Yes, you read that right.) At 9 p.m., they resume the shows except this time with a little more artistic freedom.
“Once everyone’s drunk it becomes a lot more improvised and just fun,” Mitchell said. “Now we make jokes about things that happened in the first part, or we make jokes with people in the audience.”
Mitchell said the “after hour” show is a way to celebrate plays and give actors a chance to push their characters harder or enhance a specific moment.
Maigrett once recalled a show that was originally 10 minutes the first time around, becoming 45 minutes by the second show because of all the added improvisations.
“It just tripled in length, I have no idea how,” Mort added.
Present their work
At the Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens on August 12 and 13, the collective will present three or four of the plays selected from all 1,440 played during the season.
“Everyone we do is so different. We never know which ones until they’re done,” Mitchell said. “Like tomorrow or Monday, I’ll wake up and I can really analyze it.”
He said the 1440s are a great incubator for deciding which ones could be nurtured more with a few more tweaks and more rehearsals. The band will also perform the showcase at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House on September 22 and 23.
“The beauty of it all is that you’re so into it and you can’t care less about it. You just have to broadcast it and hope for the best,” Mitchell added.
“It’s the creative process.”
Standard-Times editor Seth Chitwood can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.