“David, I have an idea.” Or the Origin Story of OMPF According to David Lee White.
I’ll never forget that night several years ago when Dominic D’Andrea turned to me and said “David, I have an idea.” Dominic always had ideas.
“What’s your idea?” I asked.
Dominic turned to me with a look of determination and said “I want to start a play festival.”
“Good idea!” I enthused. “Everyone loves a good play festival. What’s the hook?”
Dominic looked around to make sure no one was listening, leaned in close, crushed his cigarette on his shoe and said “It’s a 24 hour play festival.”
I was intrigued. “I’m intrigued,” I said. “So it would be a whole day of play readings? Like straight through for 24 hours?”
“No dude,” he chuckled. “I mean every play would be 24 hours long.”
“Tell me more.”
“It would be like…” and here he looked up at the ceiling and paused for a few hours, “It would be like…every play would start at 8:00 pm and end the next night, 24 hours later, at 8:00 pm”
“Would there be an intermission?”
“Interesting,” I mused. I tried to think of playwrights that had written 24 hour plays. If one page equals one minute, we’d be looking for scripts that were 1,440 pages long. “Could they be less than 24 hours?” I asked. “What if they were 21 or 22 hours long?”
“24 hours!” Dominic barked. “Did I stutter?”
“Okay. How many plays would be in this festival?”
Dominic thought for a bit. “Anywhere between 50 and 70.”
“Ah,” I nodded. “And would all the plays happen at the same time at several different venues?”
“No, no, no!” Dominic shouted, punching his fist into the wall. “They’d be one right after the fucking other. It would just go on and on! 70 plays, each one lasting 24 hours, one ends, the next one begins! No one sleeps, no one eats and intermissions are for pussies! 70 straight days of new plays! This is a great fucking idea!”
I could tell Dominic was overwrought. I lit him another cigarette. I waited until his breathing stabilized before I finally spoke.
“What if…and I’m just speaking hypothetically…but what if you just scaled the length of the plays back just a wee, tiny bit. Not a lot. I don’t think you should compromise your vision. But what if you just trimmed it down a little.”
Dominic walked over to the window and rested his arm on the sill. He took a drag off his cigarette and stared out across the skyline. After a few seconds he turned to me and smiled. “I have another idea,” he said.
And that night, the One Minute Play Festival was born.
-David Lee White