Actors often complain about short rehearsal times, but some of entertainment's biggest names — including Melanie Griffith, Amanda Seyfried, Uzo Aduba, Peter Dinklage, Nina Dobrev and Pablo Schreiber — are about to have virtually none.
They'll be appearing next month in the 14th annual benefit "The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway," which asks over a dozen actors, six writers and six directors to come up with six original short plays over the course of a day. Proceeds help the Urban Arts Partnership.
Rosie Perez, the actress and co-host of "The View" who is the artistic chair for the partnership and a veteran of the 24-hour plays, had this advice for participants: "Anything you can do outside of being reckless and taking illegal substances do it! You're going to need everything."
The other stars who have agreed to participate include Sasha Alexander, Jamie Chung, Billy Crudup, Rachel Dratch, Michael Ealy, Seth Green, Bryan Greenberg, Taran Killam, Zoe Kravitz, Justin Long, Aasif Mandvi, Stephen Merchant, Diane Neal, Jay Pharoah, Sebastian Stan, Julia Stiles, Tracie Thoms and Michael Kenneth.
The directors include America Ferrera ("Ugly Betty"), Andy Fickman ("Reefer Madness!") and Kathy Najimy ("Veronica's Closet"). Writers include Christina Anderson ("Good Goods"), Bekah Brunstetter ("Oohrah!"), comedian David Cross, David Lindsay Abaire ("Rabbit Hole") and Jonathan Marc Sherman ("Things We Want"). Sarwat Siddiqui, the winner of a young writers' project from Fordham University, will join the playwrights.
Next month, the pressure will be on as the playwrights gather at 10 p.m. on Nov. 16 and must pen a 10-minute play by 7 a.m. the next morning. The celebrity actors will then rehearse the work for the next 12 hours. At 8 p.m. on Nov. 17, the plays will be performed for a live audience at the American Airlines Theatre.
"The lack of sleep is really not the big issue," said Perez. "The big issue is controlling the panic. Sleep is needed so that your mind remains as stable as possible."
The one-night-only show benefits the partnership, an organization that brings arts education into New York City classrooms. The 24-Hour play project is backed by German luxury penmaker Montblanc, which has helped fund the project for several years, as well as the Montblanc Young Writers Program.
The final six plays that emerge may not be works of genius. They even may be a bit silly, but proceeds go to help underserved public schools. "A little silliness goes a long way," said Perez.