Marsha Norman and Christopher Durang . Photo by Jenny Anderson

The who’s who of the theater world descended upon the American Airlines theatre this past Monday night, Oct 30th for the 17th annual The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway. In conjunction with The Lilly Awards, the night also honored the work of Marsha Norman through their Artistic Advocacy Award.

The idea behind The 24 Hour Plays is a simple one. The execution? Hard as hell. On Sunday night, Oct 29th, playwrights, directors, and actors meet to discuss ideas. Those ideas are then compressed into one 10 minute play to be staged the following night.  Six plays emerged and singer/songwriter Shaina Taub offered quirky musical interludes between each one.

Writers included Leslye Headland (The Bachelorette), Chisa Hutchinson (Somebody’s Daughter), David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Good People), Molly Smith Metzler (Training Wisteria, Carve), Martyna Majok (Ironbound, Cost of Living) and Fernanda Coppel (King Liz).

Rachel Dratch. Photo by Jenny Anderson

The performance line-up included Michael Shannon, Rachel Dratch, Tavi Gevinson, Miriam Shor, and—much to the delight of the audience—stage and screen star Lois Smith whose stage entrance ignited rousing applause. (As she recognizes her 87th birthday today, Smith celebrated by joining twitter).

Executive director Mark Armstrong introduced the evening and joked that what the audience would see had never been performed before and “would probably never be performed again.” Still, the supportive theater community rallied for their fellow performers and laughed along with them in moments when they broke character.

Following a 15 minute intermission, the Pulitzer prize winning Norman was honored by many of her peers for her extensive contribution to the theater world. Norman’s credits include ‘night, Mother, The Secret Garden, The Color Purple, and Bridges of Madison County.

Genevieve Angelson, Lois Smith and Amy Hargreaves perform during 24 Hour Plays on Broadway. Photo by Jenny Anderson

The Lilly Awards pride themselves on honoring women working in the American Theater. Given the strong representation of smart, female writers showcased on Monday evening, they will have a lot to choose from in the coming years.

The 24 Hour Plays are produced around the globe, along with The 24 Hour Musicals.  For more information, visit: