14/48 – The World’s Quickest Theater Festival Arrives

14/48 – The World’s Quickest Theater Festival Arrives

By Jane Valencia

Taking place at the Open Space is 14/48, a whirlwind production made up of Vashon artists and collaborators, in which 14 plays are created and performed in 48 hours.

Here’s how 14/48 Vashon describes the process:

“On Thursday night, this group of fearless creators gathers and throws themes into a hat. A theme is drawn and seven writers head home to write seven brand new ten-minute plays overnight. The next day, seven directors draw the play they will direct, then they draw their cast, and then they get to work: those seven new plays are rehearsed, designed, and scored throughout the day, and performed twice on Friday night … and then the whole process happens again. And thus, 14 new plays are born and performed in just 48 hours. It’s theatrical madness of an incredibly creative sort.”

The production is in its sixth year on Vashon, and steered by Invitations and Planning Committee members, David Godsey, Cate O’Kane, Andy James, Maria Glanz, and Mik Kuhlman. Mik, who is well-known on the Island as an actress, producer, and teaching artist, shares further about 14/48.

“Everything is random,” Mik explains. Not just the theme or which play the director will direct, but even the cast is randomly selected. “And then, there’s a design team working, and a band that are people who don’t normally play together. They have to write a theme song and music that goes in and out of each show to set the mood for what’s coming up, and take us out at the end.”

The production houses easily at Open Space, because “You have to have seven rehearsal rooms going, and a costume shop, a prop shop, a band rehearsal place, and a place to feed everybody.” With about 25 actors, five musicians, seven writers, seven directors, ten designers, two artist liaisons, three stage crew, five tech people, and four food preparers, plus a handful of hunters and gatherers for props and costumes and hardware, around 70 people are involved.

“It’s so fun to watch. You can’t believe what people can create in a day.”

Mik goes on to describe the process. “You have to really go from the heart in it, and from the gut. You don’t have time. You cannot say no in that process. So if somebody has an idea, you just say, ‘Okay, yay. Let’s go.’ There is no time for self-doubt. You say ‘yes’ before you even know what you’re saying yes to. You’re committed to the process.”

Mik believes that the experience is excellent training for actors, creators, and producers. The work, she explains, “Doesn’t have to be perfect. It has to just get out there. And when you do that, you actually drop a lot of that excess stuff, and the process becomes magical.”

Earlier, Mik and I had been talking about trees. Now, she shares a concept about how trees grow that relates to the process of 14/48.

“A tree has to soften its bark. The tree has got this boundary. It has to soften the boundary in order to grow into a new boundary. It literally has to do that. And it’s what we do as humans. It’s how we grow, too. It’s a really beautiful correlation.

“Because you have to first soften the boundary. You can’t have the edge – you have to soften it, and then you have to drop it, release it. Then you have to build a new one – really quick, and grow into that one. It’s not something that’s there. You have to imagine it and create it, I guess. But the first step is the softening of the bark, or you don’t have anywhere to grow – to grow into your next boundary.

“So that’s what 14/48 is literally like: here’s the boundary – grow. The softening of the bark is the stage where we’ve let it go, where we have to let go of our schedule. We’re going to slam into a weekend that’s going to require 24 hours, because you’re on hot – It’s a lot of work. And you do it twice. It’s exhausting.”

Yet clearly exhilarating, and clearly worth the adventure. “And it’s so good,” Mik finishes, “because you get to create, and you get to play with people. And the audience gets to celebrate the creativity of the theatre community condensing our process into two back-to-back, 24-hour periods.  It’s well worth taking in both nights. Fourteen world premiere plays in one weekend!”

14/48 not only takes place in the Seattle area, but in other states and countries too. There’s even a high school 14/48. Don’t miss 14/48 Vashon at the Open Space, on Friday, January 19 and Saturday, January 20. For tickets and to find out more: www.openspacevashon.com.

14/48 Vashon, Jan 27-28, 2023 at Open Space for Arts & Community – Amy Broomhall, Maria Glanz, Jeannie Dougherty, Jill Bulow. Photo by Michelle Bates.
14/48 Vashon, Jan 27-28, 2023 at Open Space for Arts & Community – Juniper Rogneby, Maria Glanz, Amy Broomhall. – Photo by Michelle Bates.
January 8, 2024

About Author

jane Jane writes about what it means to be an Islander, and how we can nourish healthy community. A harper, storyteller, and herbalist, she also shares tales and art that she is sure the Island told her. Having lived with her family on Vashon for 20+ years, she is convinced of the Island's magic.