I just returned from the latest installment of Seattle ACT Theatre’s popular theater event, 14/48: The World’s Quickest Theater Festival. The festival was staged at ACT Theatre for the fourth consecutive year as part of ACT’s Central Heating Lab, an innovative talent development program. The semi-annual theatre event, now in its 15th year, was originally planned as a one-time only fundraiser. More than 750 plays with more than 3,000 artists have followed. Now stretching over two weekends, 14/48 consists of 14 plays conceived, written, designed, scored, rehearsed and performed in 48 hours–seven new plays on Friday, followed by seven new plays on Saturday. More than 50 invited theatre artists perform each weekend.
Early Thursday evening before the festival begins and after tapping the ceremonial 14/48 Keg, the participants choose a theme by opining, “Theatre would be a lot more interesting if there were seven ten-minute plays about …” An answer is randomly chosen, and that becomes the theme for the following evening. Seven writers have 12 hours to write seven 10-minute plays based on the theme. The following morning, seven directors gather and each randomly draw one play. Thirty minutes later, the directors cast performers for Friday’s 8 pm show. The process is repeated Friday night.
The event’s crowd was noticeably younger than most of ACT’s offerings, which speaks well to Central Heating Lab’s outreach goals. The show sells out every night and justifiably so. ACT scores yet another winner with 14/48.