24 Hour Plays
Gala Fundraiser for the Old Vic New Voices Programs
performed on October 8, 2006

Tom comments on his participation in the 2006 performances

The 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala

Sunday, 8 October 2006
(from the Old Vic New Voices Gala promotional brochure)

Not your standard night of London theatre.  Greg Hicks shuffled off-stage wearing just surgical gloves, a leather jacket and a novelty sheep thong, leaving Tom Hollander to strip down to his Calvin Kleins and bellow, “I have an attractive penis” to the world.  Thus ended April de Angelis’ Buxton Gem, the final contribution to the 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala on Sunday 8 October 2006. 

At 10pm the previous night 19 actors, six writers and six directors gathering The Old Vic’s rehearsal rooms to start exactly the same process that the Old Vic New Voices company would go through four weeks later.  Everyone was assured that the one absentee, Dominic West, would definitely be there the next morning.  But by the time the writers and fretted their way through the night and submitted their scripts, Dominic had phoned in sick and the search was on for a replacement.  At incredibly short notice Greg Wise stepped into the breach; 12 hours later he opened the show in Colin Teevan’s An Inexplicable Act of Violence

They say that the assembled talent rose to the challenge of creating six brand new plays in 24 hours would be a colossal understatement.  Tamzin Outhwaite and Patricia Hodge found time in their all too brief line-cramming sessions to practise their kissing for Simon Farquar’s Dream Me a Winter; Adrian Lukis risked his nasal health to join them in some on-stage sherbet shorting; Susannah York refused to be distracted from her own memorable performance ins Sally Wainwright’s Jubilee Terrace by her car being towed away; Vince Vaughn wrestled with his comedic conscience to get a huge laugh from the opening joke of Bryony Lavery’s Bourbon; and the cast of Snoo Wilson’s The Tourette Family gave their all in their attempt to break the world record for most swearing in a ten minute play.

A staggering 125,000 pounds was raised for Old Vic New Voices in a wonderful evening hosted by Catherine Tate, which began with Kevin Spacey pulling out a string of impressions from Cary Grant to Graham Norton, and ended with the new Voices company being the last to leave the after-show party at the Plaza, as they slowly realised that the spotlight was now firmly on them.



Reviews:

Spacey stars in a 24-hour drama blitz at the Old Vic;
First Night; 24 HOUR PLAYS;

The Independent (London)
October 9, 2006 Monday, Fourth Edition
By Rhoda Koenig

The writers of last night's 24 Hour Plays may have been shattered, but the cast of stage, film, and television stars doing a drama blitz for charity showed no strain.

At 10pm on Saturday, they got together to create six short plays, to be written overnight by Colin Tee-van, Snoo Wilson and others, rehearsed from 8am Sunday, and then presented before an audience lubricated with as much champagne as they could snag from passing waiters.

The third annual benefit raised £110,000 for the Old Vic, New Voices Programme supporting young talent, and gave the actors a chance to expand their horizons. Few in the audience can have previously seen, for instance, Patricia Hodge snog Tamzin Outhwaite.

Kevin Spacey, the artistic director of the Old Vic, thanked supporters for "the legal stimulants we needed to get through this," and Graham Norton for "sending the box of pills. We sent them back.''

After impersonating various film stars (his Christopher Walken was particularly wicked), Spacey turned the evening over to Catherine Tate, who introduced each play, adding comments on the participants: "According to a website set up by his fans, Jonathan Cake is 'a seething volcano of testosterone'. Well, get her!"

As one might expect from an evening with so many musical stars (Nichola McAuliffe, Clarke Peters), there was vocalising, though it was not necessarily integrated into the plot. Nick Moran, for instance, kept breaking out of his part as a critic in a green dressing-gown to sing Frank Sinatra songs. The rest of the time he would battle for Greg Wise's soul with a six-foot rabbit carrying a shotgun. (One feels it would take longer to summarise a few of the plays than it did to perform then).

Nor were the musical performances of a conventional nature. Greg Hicks, as a ritual healer, brought the house down with his rendition of ancient Brazilian music while dressed only in trainers, a leather jacket and a codpiece. "Do you have to wear that?" a horrified Tom Hollander asked. Hicks nodded gravely. "It saves a lot of time." But, then, the troubled family in April de Angelis's play was itself far from conventional. "We don't have enough sex!'' Greta Scacchi wailed to Hollander, who replied with an anguished: "Mother!"

Cake's testosterone did him little good against the two harpies of East End soap opera household. Pam Ferris delivered her lines like a Valkyrie, and Susannah York, cast hilariously against type as a Dot Cotton-style friend, asked "Shall I put the kettle on?'' after each gory act of family violence. As an actor returning to his hillbilly home, Vince Vaughn was also involved in family homicide - against a mother (McAuliffe) who crosses herself when she hears the word "Hollywood".

The plays will probably not find their way into the anthologies, but they amused the punters, some of whom went off to a party where they had the chance to win the role of Santa Claus's helper in a new film starring Spacey. That could hardly be dafter than the Old Vic plays last night.



24-Hour notice
Variety
October 16, 2006 - October 22, 2006
By DAVID BENEDICT

LONDON  Vince Vaughn was plotting to kill his God-fearing mother, Alicia Witt was swearing like a Marine, Patricia Hodge was snorting coke, and Tom Hollander was telling --- no, yelling --- that he had a beautiful penis.  No, I'm not talking about the champagne party for this year's 24-Hour Plays at the Old Vic on Oct. 8. All that dissolute behavior was in the six 10-minute plays themselves, from Bryony Lavery, April de Angelis, Sally Wainwright, Colin Teevan, Simon Farquhar and Snoo Wilson.

Even before the casts began strutting their stuff, celebs were out in force. On his night off from slugging it out with the mesmerizing Eve Best in Howard Davies' "A Moon for the Misbegotten," Kevin Spacey was on the set introducing a packed house to his address book: Bill Clinton, Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino,   Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart. OK, so they were all impersonations courtesy of Spacey, but you get the point.

Actors are all too often described as being brave --- usually when someone startlingly beautiful dares to put on a bad wig and a few extra pounds to appear, gasp, unattractive --- but it takes guts to learn, rehearse and perform a brand-new script in public in 12 hours. And if not every script wrenched after seven hours from the writers' sweaty hands was an unassailable masterpiece, they did provide cherishable moments, from Greta Scacchi stomping around in Wellington boots bemoaning six years without sex to Susannah York slumming it as a cockney loudmouth.

Entertainment aside, the event is a fund-raiser for Old Vic/New Voices, the talent development program produced by Kate Pakenham. This year's record-breaking total of £125,000 ($232,000) will fund everything from a large-scale community production about the Battle of the Somme at the theater's neighboring Imperial War Museum to the continuance of Pakenham's flourishing U.S./U.K. playwright exchange . So far, that  program  has given U.S. exposure to writers including Richard Bean, Debbie Tucker Green and Michael Wynne, and a U.K. profile to David Grimm, Lynn Nottage and Sarah Ruhl.

The producers of New York's 24-Hour Plays who attended were certainly impressed. Participating helmer Josie Rourke, whose production of David Mamet's "The Cryptogram" is about to open at the Donmar Warehouse with Kim Cattrall, was invited to direct one of the plays in the Gotham version on Oct. 23. The BBC's new star writer-comedienne Catherine Tate, who acted in last year's event and was this year's host, also has been invited to take a role in the Gotham version.

All About The Old VIc

Celebrity Gala

Hosted by Catherine Tate
Kevin Spacey, Artistic Director

24 Hour Plays participants included:

Tom Hollander
Nichola McAuliffe
Clarke Peters
Jonathan Cake
Nick Moran
Greg Wise
Pam Ferris
Susannah York
Vince Vaughn
Alexander Armstrong
Dexter Fletcher
Tom Hardy
Anthony Head
Clare Higgins
Patricia Hodge
Adrian Lukis
Tamzin Outhwaite
Greta Scacchi
Rachael Stirling
Dominic West
Alicia Witt
O-T Fagbenle


 
 

 

 
 

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