A frightening 24 hours for thespians

Matilda Battersby@matildbattersby
Monday 02 November 2009 13:32

On Halloween night an eclectic bunch of actors and writers gathered in the auditorium of London’s Old Vic theatre preparing to write, rehearse and perform six plays in 24 hours to raise cash for charity.

The all-star cast included Jane Asher, Art Malik, Nigel Lindsay and Anna Maxwell-Martin; while the notable writers included Nick Moran, Chloe Moss and Amy Rosenthal.

Catching the mood of nervous exhilaration and hysteria felt by the thespians prior to kick off, Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey said:

“Happy Halloween everyone! If you think you’re scared tonight wait until tomorrow night. Within the next 24 hours one or two of you will be on the phone to your agents saying get me the fuck out of this...The audience is really up for it and wants to see some blood on the floor.”

The troupe went round the circle introducing their preferred talent (writing, acting directing) and presenting a medley of amusing props which ranged from the threatening (a gun from Jane Asher); the impractical (a paddling pool “sex aid for train spotters”); and the absurd (a poo bag from the evening’s host Graham Norton).

Once the cast had been divvied up the writers were packed off the posh hotels to slave through the night and create the six masterpieces, ready for the actors to learn at dawn.

With just 10 hours to rehearse their plays before curtain up on Sunday night emotions were running high, lines were being fluffed and there was an overwhelming posture of head in hands.

But the show must go on and by all accounts it went off well last night raising more than £120,000 for Old Vic New Voices – a professional development programme that runs workshops, master classes and production funding for young actors, writers, directors.

Watch the run up to the performances in the video to the left.

Video credit: Christine Hall

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