Thursday, 23 July 2009

The 24 Hours Plays: Old Vic, New Voices (press release)

24 Hours. 7 New Plays. 57 Company Members. 1000-Strong Audience

· Journey with the team throughout the day in a unique live online experience, with content and updates every 10 minutes

· Old Vic New Voices project continues the career-launching success of previous years

Following a rigorous audition process, a selection of the best young writers, directors, actors and producers of the future will join forces at the Old Vic Theatre for The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices on Sunday 26 July 2009 at 7.30pm. A company of fifty-seven 18-25 year old aspiring professionals will write, rehearse and present seven new plays – in front of an audience of industry leaders, family, friends and the paying public - all in just 24 hours.

For the first time, we will also be providing a unique insight into the 24 Hour Plays process through live online updates across a range of digital media tools. We will be syndicating text-based content through Twitter, audio updates through AudioBoo, and images through Twitpic as well as sharing videos through Vimeo and YouTube. Visual, audio and text-based content will be linked together using our Twitter account as a central access point for all.

With updates at least once every 10 minutes throughout the 24 hours, this will allow anyone to be with the company every step of the way before setting off to the theatre in the evening to attend the actual performance in person. This will be the first time any production in a West End theatre has committed to opening its doors to an online community to such a concentrated extent. You can get ready to journey with us at

Commenting on the project, now in its fourth year, Kevin Spacey (the Artistic Director of the Old Vic) said: “The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices acts as a powerful talent showcase, launching and supporting the careers of over 150 young practitioners to date and it has proven to be a terrific springboard for those who participate.”

Previous years have resulted in huge successes for the participants following the event. Jo Danvers, now producer at the Gate Theatre, explains: “This was a chance in a million to be involved in such raw, relevant and exciting theatre. It was a privilege and I feel as if I have made friends and co-collaborators for life.”

Other previous participants have included: Actors Charity Wakefield (Sense and Sensibility, BBC), Davide Ferretti (Enjoy, Gielgud) Joanna Christie (Equus, West End) and Danny Lee Wynter (Joe’s Palace and Capturing Mary, Poliakoff), writer Mike Bartlett (My Child and Contractions, Royal Court and Artefacts, The Bush), director Mike Longhurst (Stovepipe, West 12 and Dirty Butterfly, Young Vic Jerwood Directors' Prize) and producers Imogen Kinchin (Spring Awakening, Lyric) and director Mike Longhurst (Dirty Butterfly, Young Vic Jerwood Directors' Prize).

Old Vic New Voices have been working alongside partner organisation IdeasTap, an on-line resource and funding programme for creative young people. Working through the web and in partnership with Old Vic New Voices, IdeasTap supports creative young individuals by encouraging collaboration, allowing access to funding, developing careers and project-based opportunities and showcasing work and ideas. Applications for this year’s The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices were submitted through IdeasTap and each applicant became an Associate Member of Old Vic New Voices, with access to workshops, tickets offers and creative opportunities.

The 24 Hour Plays concept was originally created by New York City-based organisation, The 24 Hour Company. The 24 Hour Plays project has run for over 13 years in the States, the Old Vic brought the concept to London as a celebrity fundraising event in 2004 and it is now Old Vic New Voice’s annual fund-raiser. To date, theatrical stars who have participated include Brooke Shields, Jim Broadbent, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Sophie Okonedo, Rosamund Pike, Catherine Tate, Gael Garçia Bernal, and Meera Syal to name but a few.

Notes for Editors


Old Vic New Voices supports young and emerging talent, sources and develops new work for production on The Old Vic stage, and opens up the building to new and diverse audiences. Each Old Vic production is accompanied by a comprehensive series of Creative Learning events, backstage tours and ticket offers for 8 to 25 year olds. Old Vic New Voices’ Education work also takes tailor-made projects into schools across London and brings thousands of students into The Old Vic for workshops and performances every year. Creative Community initiatives introduce hundreds of local people to productions on the main stage with reduced price tickets and dedicated community events.

The New Voices Club offers an ongoing professional development programme for 18-25 year old actors, writers, directors and producers. Anyone aged 18-25 can become an Associate member of the club – which gives practitioners access to club events and resources - by signing up to our microsite on Old Vic New Voices also sources, commissions and develops new work. Special emphasis is placed on innovative projects which have the scope and ambition to fill The Old Vic stage. As part of the focus on new work, OVNV also runs the New Voices Network in New York which supports US emerging practitioners. Visit for more details.


Founded by the creator of The 24 Hour Plays, The 24 Hour Company is the newest incarnation of the group of artists and producers that has mounted over 300 short plays since 1995--all written, cast, rehearsed and performed in a single day. Paper Magazine wrote “the quality of the plays is remarkable,” and the Village Voice adds, “here was the energy missing from the Ludlow scene... theatricality as life, as subversion, even survival.” The rotating cast and crew of The 24 Hour Plays have performed for sold-out houses on and off-Broadway in New York, as well as Chicago, Los Angeles, and throughout the United States. Last year they were invited to the Bonn Perfomance Bienniele, and they have produced shows in Denmark, Canada, and Australia. Participants have included diverse talents from all levels— from Tony, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize winners to emerging talent and high school students. Visit for more details.


Use of digital media in performance, communication and audience development in the arts is a phenomenon gathering pace on a daily basis with new developments appearing all the time. Following the shift_happens conference by Pilot Theatre in June 2009, Guardian critic Lyn Gardner commented on her blog that, “In a new social and cultural landscape, artists have to redefine cultural production and how people access it. All this will be a challenge, but an interesting one.” Whilst many theatre companies see digital media as a marketing tool, the new feeling is that it is ultimately about people, about working with another community whether they visit the theatre or not.

Inspiration for the experiment comes from the hit Broadway musical Next to Normal, which “tweeted” its narrative from the perspective of the characters involved over a monthly period. They now have over 300,000 followers, and counting, on Twitter and have connected with audiences and others alike in a way which has not been seen before.

The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices event gives the Old Vic a perfect opportunity to experiment and develop other ways to communicate.

Listings Information

The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices
Sunday 26 July 2009, 7.30pm

Tickets: £10 & £20
Box Office: 0870 060 6628

The Old Vic Theatre, The Cut, London, SE1 8NB
Nearest Tube & Rail: Waterloo Station (National Rail, Jubilee and Northern Lines)

Online content begins on Saturday 25 July 2009 at 8.30pm.
It continues until Midnight on Sunday 26 July 2009.

NB. You can also use using the hashtag #24hourplays to follow conversation.

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