Bricolage Urban Scrawl is a mad scramble to create new plays in 24 hours


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The creative race against time known as Bricolage Urban Scrawl (B.U.S.) has added a new twist to the mix of playwrights, directors and actors scrambling to create six new 10-minute plays in just 24 hours.

For the ninth event and second at the New Hazlett Theater, there is a musical challenge as well.

B.U.S. 9 schedule

When/Where: Friday at Bricolage, Downtown: 7-9 p.m.: VIP reception and actor parade.

Saturday at New Hazlett Theater, North Side: 6:30-8 p.m., VIP pre-show reception; 8-10 p.m., performances; 10 to midnight, post-party show.

Admission: All events Friday and Saturday, $150; all Saturday events, $75; Saturday performance and post-show, $40. www.bricolagepgh.org or 412-471-0999.

Josh Verbanets, from the trio Meeting of Important People, has been tasked with writing a B.U.S. anthem using the same inspiration -- a bus ride on a Pittsburgh line -- in the same time that the playwrights have to write their one-acts.

"We're challenging him to come out on Friday and be a part of how that generation of ideas and how that night goes, and by the time the doors open on Friday, he will have written a song all about B.U.S.," explained Tami Dixon, Bricolage's artistic director.

Here's how the by-the-book part of the night goes, although anything can happen when three dozen artists try to make theatrical magic on a tight deadline.

On Friday, six playwrights (Vanessa German, Gab Cody, Molly Rice, Martin Giles, Wali Jamal and Mark Clayton Southers) take bus rides to various parts of the city, then they return to the "Actors Parade," where the process of writing and creating a cast from the pool of 24 local actors takes shape.

By morning, each of six directors (Sheila McKenna, Cynthia Croot, Don DiGiulio, Cameron Knight, Mark Staley and Marci Woodruff), writers and actors are in six groups and ready to rehearse. Then Saturday at 8 p.m., there will be six performances of new works, plus one new song.

While the writers are writing into the wee hours of Friday, Ms. Dixon and her husband, Bricolage managing director Jeffrey Carpenter, have headed for home before picking up with the action the next morning.

"Jeffrey and I say it all the time: It's hands down our favorite theater night of the year," Ms. Dixon said. "It's the most magical night. It honors our craft. It celebrates theater at its very base and traditional values. All of the feelings and emotions you get with two months of rehearsing and performing, you get in 24 hours. The result is so powerful, you can feel it in the room."

Performance night leaves the confines of Bricolage's Downtown space for the larger New Hazlett Theater on the North Side.

"Bringing it to the New Hazlett last year was definitely a milestone for us," Mr. Carpenter said. "We're breaking the seams here at Bricolage and we're able to watch it grow into the new space, which is pretty exciting."

B.U.S. 9 kicks off with a VIP event Friday, when patrons are invited behind the scenes to see how the plays come together. The weekend's activities continue at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the New Hazlett with a pre-show reception featuring food, drink and a silent auction before the performances, "with amusing interludes between each performance," plus some surprise guests.


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