24 Hour Plays Edinburgh is a day of intensive theatre where teams of creatives will write, direct, and produce a play at the Assembly Roxy in only 24 hours. The pieces will be judged, with the winning team being given the chance to develop and tour their play around Scotland. Asylon Theatre’s artistic director and leader of the project Marta Mari speaks about the event and how it relates to the wider theatre industry.
What inspired you to do this project?
I participated in a 24 Hour Plays project years ago whilst in drama school. I remember the rush, the madness and above all the incredibly positive energy of teamwork. Theatre is a collective artform and the more chance we get to work collaboratively, the more connected we feel with the theatre community. As a producer, I absolutely love to create opportunities for people to participate in arts, to grow and also to have fun. Depending on the outcome of this year’s project, I hope that this will continue as an annual event enabling more people to take up the challenge.
Who do you hope will get involved?
We have received a very decent number of applications from artists of all levels of experience. We tried to mix them up into teams so that those with very impressive experiences could also work with theatre students so that chances are equal in all teams. Interestingly, more women applied than men. I’m tempted to wonder if women are actually more eager to take risks?
What advice would you give to the artists taking part?
To trust their intuition and at the same time to trust a stranger, to really listen but at the same time to be brave to voice out their own opinions, to get out of their comfort zones, to not overthink, to let go of any agendas, be generous and kind, and also, most importantly, to have fun.
Are you looking for any particular themes or styles in the work produced?
I am not! I would like to be surprised and as an audience member also challenged. Any style is allowed. However, there will be a theme announced to the teams a night before.
How do you think the experience could affect people’s development as an artist?
It is hard to say because as I mentioned earlier, we have artists of all levels of professional experience and knowledge. Regardless though, participation in the project will strengthen collaborative skills, will boost self-confidence (that many young artists struggle with), will be a fantastic exercise in quick thinking, solving problems on the spot and a chance to meet new theatre artists. It’s a fantastic opportunity for professional development.
Do you think the fast-pace can change the creative experience in any way? Or even the work produced?
I’m not sure if change is the right word. The fast-pace process is a great experience and exercise but I don’t think it’s a preferred way of working on creating a theatre production. As a director, I like to take my time to analyse the play. I appreciate having time for research; I love development with actors. All this time is needed to ensure high quality of the production. I’m not saying that productions created in 24 hours cannot be of high quality – sure they can – but working in such a fast pace is not sustainable on a long term basis. It’s a question to ask artists after the projects.