Arts Listings

Woman’s Will Stages 10th Annual ‘24-Hour Playfest’

By Ken Bullock, Special to The Planet
Friday February 29, 2008

Woman’s Will, Oakland’s all-female Shakespeare specialists, will stage their 10th annual 24-Hour Playfest on Monday, March 3, 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater on College Ave. The night before the performance seven women playwrights, seven women directors and some 35 actors “of various persuasions” will gather at the theater to develop an overall theme, after which the playwrights write all night in an intensive creative session that results in seven new plays. The new plays are rehearsed the next morning, with tech rehearsals in the afternoon. A video highlighting the process from a past show is on the troupe’s website, 

“The results are a seat-of-the-pants performance you won’t want to miss,” said Woman’s Will founder and artistic director Erin Merritt. “There’s suspense of course—will this one go down in flames?—but the ongoing surprise over the past 10 years is how good the plays and performances really are. It’s almost like improv, but the scripts are memorized.” 

The show’s a fundraiser for the troupe, “but we’re keeping ticket prices low. There’ll also be a small silent auction.” 

The costumes and props are spare, given out the night before along with the theme. “One year, it was Prizes and Awards,” said Merritt, “like the Nobel and Pulitzer. It’s to feature how many good female playwrights, directors and actors are around. I don’t think people realize what a vast range there is. And they often don’t expect a good show, but the energy in the room from the actors is great. They work together so well—they need each other! They make big choices, what you go to the theater for. They’re contagious, high energy performances.”