Preview: Lab Theater locks the doors, turns up pressure on playwrights

Writers attempt to attempt to write, edit, cast and stage a play within 24 hours during group's inaugural 24-Hour Playwriting Project

Playwrights will attempt to write, edit, cast and stage a play within 24 hours during the Laboratory Theater of Florida's 24-Hour Playwriting Project. See the finished works at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets are $20. Call 239-218-0481 or online at laboratorytheaterflorida.com.

Playwrights will attempt to write, edit, cast and stage a play within 24 hours during the Laboratory Theater of Florida's 24-Hour Playwriting Project. See the finished works at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets are $20. Call 239-218-0481 or online at laboratorytheaterflorida.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Playwrights attempt to write, edit, cast and stage a play within 24 hours

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Kiwanis Hall, 1634 Woodford Avenue, downtown Fort Myers

Cost: $20

Information: 239-218-0481 or laboratorytheaterflorida.com

On the Web: More theater news at The Stage Door blog

— Would you spend 24 hours locked in a building in downtown Fort Myers? Would you spend 16 hours trying to write a play? And would you then spend eight hours casting, rehearsing, gathering props, costumes and a set? And put it on stage for an audience? Nuts, huh?

Well, these guys plan to try!

The Laboratory Theater of Florida turns on the coffee pots, clicks the lock and walks away from their Woodford Avenue home at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. Only creativity allows these brave souls to escape.

"There is nothing like being under the gun to get the creative juices flowing," Lab Theater founder and producing artistic director Annette Trossbach said.

The idea springs from Trossbach's time at the East 15 drama school in London and theater "war stories" about a similar 24-hour festival told by one of the school's affable guest directors.

"The way he described it, writers were making nests on the stage overnight," Trossbach regales, "and of course it was drama school and it was Europe, so everyone was smoking and cursing and brooding."

Not that she expects cursing and brooding from the crowd expected into her theater. Well, maybe a little.

Playwrights expected to take part include:

■ Char Loomis, the chief editor at Waterman Broadcasting

■ Freelance writer John Fry

■ Carmen Crussard, the co-founder of City Scenes Theater

■ Screenwriter Denise Sher, who also studied at the National Mime Theatre School

After their all night session wracking their brains and pounding the keyboards, published playwrights Louise Wigglesworth and Peter Swet will pop in for breakfast.

"[Louise and Peter] will be there to help the playwrights revise and edit," Stella Ruiz, coordinator of the event for the Lab Theater, said.

About a dozen actors show up at noon; playwrights are in the dark about who they might get to work with. In an additional wrinkle, the Lab Theater solicited - via Facebook - responses for three lines which must be used in some way in each play.

Possibilities include:

■ "I ate fish for the first time in 3 years."

■ "I am not a troll. For one thing, I haven't asked you any riddles."

■ "I don't know...the horses are really nervous tonight."

■ "I've never seen so much puke in my life!"

■ "How many animals will you need to pull that off?"

Ruiz also believes the pressure may serve as an incentive for writers to create something memorable.

Shows will be judged the next day; there will be a judges' favorite and an audience favorite, Ruiz said.

Trossbach also hopes to have the works published as part of a collection of short plays.

In the end though, the aim of the event lies in pushing the bounds of creativity while stirring up an intoxicating mix of jeopardy, anticipation and pure adrenaline.

"Some playwrights work on scripts for years before they make it to the stage," Trossbach said. "Other writers have an idea, write it on a napkin and produce brilliant plays within a weekend."

Audiences can view the fruits of the Laboratory Theater of Florida's 24-Hour Playwriting Project at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets are $20.

The Laboratory Theater of Florida is located at 1634 Woodford Avenue in downtown Fort Myers. For more information or to purchase tickets, go online to laboratorytheaterflorida.com or call (239) 218-0481.

Can you write a play in 24 hours? Email me, csilk@naplesnews.com. Email me, csilk@naplesnews.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.

© 2012 gonaples.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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