Heard about The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices? Thinking about applying this year? Not sure what to expect? We spoke to some of the stars of last year’s show about writing, directing, producing and acting in the show that puts the “dead” into “deadline”…
Alice Birch, Writer
It’s ridiculous but so much fun. Every writer needs a deadline – this is just the mega deadline.
I tried to get loads of sleep the night before but I was too nervous. I mainly got through it on adrenaline. All the producers and The Old Vic staff were handing out energy drinks and going out to get takeaways for us.
I remember getting a backrub from a stranger at four in the morning. I’m grateful to them to this day.
You just can’t be insular. If you have something you want another opinion on, you just have to grab someone and make them read it.
Jessica Ellis, Actor
It’s probably the best thing that I did for my career. When you come out of drama school, things can be a bit quiet. Then I did The 24 Hour Plays and it got me in contact with loads of young writers, directors and producers who are all on my wavelength. I’ve got so much work from it.
My advice to actors auditioning this year is: you know your craft, you know what monologues suit you – just get up there and be yourself.
You’re walking out on stage at The Old Vic. I mean, what more can you ask for?
Lucy Jackson, Producer
The Old Vic want a colleague; they want you to have a plan and be committed – not just kids who are excited to be in the office.
The producing role lasts three weeks, not 24 hours. You start as soon as the company is picked: doing industry invitations, organising the day, doing the tech schedule, sending out the press release.
I was one of the producers who stayed up all night with the writers. They’ve got six hours to write something that’s fit to be shown to all those people; I like to think that I had helped with that process.
Stef O’Driscoll, Director
I suddenly got this network of people: actors to work with in the future, amazing producers, writers I’m working with again now.
You’re used to working in little black boxes, so to direct for The Old Vic stage is brilliant.
When it comes to getting through those crazy 24 hours, it’s all about staying calm for your actors. If they see you freaking out then they’ll freak out. In the rehearsal room I was very Zen.
I don’t think I got really nervous until the show before mine. Then I went mad.
Mark Cartwright, Producer
As a producer, it’s about forming that company feel. Take the time to get to know everyone as much as possible.
Those last two hours before the show are the hardest. You just have to try to not snap at anyone, stay calm and remember that everyone is trying as hard as you are to make it a success.
James Quaife, Project Manager for OVNV
One of the key things we look for is the punctuality of application forms. Many people leave it to the last moment to upload but, in reality, the people who get theirs up sooner are at the top of the pile.
In 2009 I was lucky enough to take part as a producer. Since then I have been a working for Old Vic New Voices, developing new work with a fantastic network of young creative people.
I would advise anyone wanting a career in theatre to apply.
To be part of this year’s 24 Hour Plays, visit the Actor, Producer, Director and Writer briefs.