''As far as we know it's probably the first time anyone in town has done something similar to this,'' says Jeff Scott, marketing and events manager for the Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts.
Scott's not talking about the 11 p.m. start time for his organization's debut Dramathon next Friday, May 20, although that is about as late as theater gets. The novelty is that the charity event features eight 10-minute plays, written in just 24 hours by some of the area's leading playwrights, including Ari Roth, Norman Allen, Renee Calarco and Elizabeth Pringle. And some of the area's best professional actors, including Sarah Marshall, Craig Wallace, Christopher Henley and Donna Miggliaccio, have signed on to perform. All have donated their time for the cause, which is to help cover costs for the 19-year-old organization's summer theater camp for local disadvantaged kids.
''The playwrights knew ahead of time which one of the professional actors was going to be in their plays, so they got to write and tailor it toward that actor,'' says Scott. Each playwright was given a prompt to work from, such as ''put these three things together into a play.'' Most of the resulting plays are comedies, though a few tackle serious matters, from body issues to politics.
Over the past month, about 30 volunteers, mostly students of the lab, have waged individual campaigns for the event, with a goal of raising at least $100 each. The highest-grossing fundraisers will get to act in at least one of the plays, a chance to work with the D.C. theater scene's leading lights -- the type whom, says Scott, ''they might not normally get the chance to act with right off the bat.'' '
"Dramathon" is Friday, May 20, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, Washington, D.C.'s Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets, benefiting the camp fund, are $15. Call 202-824-0449 or visit theatrelab.org.