When Madi Distefano first encountered the classic absurdist play “The Bald Soprano,” she had a career-changing notion: What if it never ends?
Eugene Ionesco’s 1950 farce of English domestic banality lends itself to that interpretation: As the curtain falls, the characters switch roles and begin the play again, word-for-word.
“I don’t remember why I was reading it, but I do remember that I was stoned,” recalls Distefano. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, it should never end. It’s repetitious and absurd!’ It just made perfect sense to me.”
With that, “A 24-Hour The Bald Soprano” was born, officially debuting in the 1998 New York Fringe Festival. The initial production garnered Distefano’s Philly-based Brat Productions a cascade of national press and remains the most nationally recognized show Brat has ever produced.
The fourth revival will hit the stage on Friday, beginning at 8 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. the following day. (The audience will be able to come and go as they please.)
“For the entire 24 hours, you only see each other onstage,” says one ensemble member, Bradley Wrenn. “There’s no way to check in with each other to see how you’re holding up. It’s a really bizarre experience.”
Distefano on the original 1998 ‘24-Hour Soprano’:
“It wasn’t a crazy original thought. I’m sure other people have had the same idea. It’s just that in my naivete as a producer, I went ahead and did it. If I had that thought today, I probably wouldn’t do it. That’s why I think young people are the brilliant ones: They don’t know what they’re not supposed to do.”
Need a break? Check out upstairs at Plays and Players Theater on Saturday for:
4 a.m.: Pancake breakfast
11 a.m. and 1 p.m.: Absurdist reading by Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium
Noon: Panel discussion with members of EgoPo Classic Theater and Theatre Exile
2 p.m.: Absurdist theater history quizzo