More than the plot of “The 24th Day” will remain a mystery until the curtain rises on this thriller. It opens Friday (8/30) on the lower level of the Shores Event Center in Cedar Rapids, and continues for five more performances, ending Sept. 6.
Director Kerry Covington of Cedar Rapids is being tight-lipped about the play starring Corridor actors Matthew James and Kyle Shedeck.
Adding to the suspense, the actors will flip a coin before performances to see which role they’ll play that day — except for the two Friday performances, when the roles will be predetermined. That way, audience members who want to return to see the actors step into the other character can be assured that will happen.
“I’m trying to keep as much of it under wraps as possible,” Covington said, “because it adds to the value to the experience. But essentially, these two guys — Dan and Tom — have a chance encounter five years before the play takes place, and that encounter sets their lives on a particular track that culminates in their meeting five years later.
“I know that’s pretty vague, but it’s a mystery, and as the story unfolds and more and more is revealed, it gets more and more exciting, so I would hate to ruin that as a part of the experience.”
She said James had been trying to put the project together for a couple of years, and suggested she read the script. She did, and was hooked.
“I was drawn to it because it’s a thriller, it’s a great mystery, and I don’t get to see enough of that as a theatergoer,” she said. “It just sounds like a really fun, exciting challenge.”
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She didn’t realize just how exciting that challenge would be, until she stepped into her previously unknown role of directing each actor in both characters.
“It’s definitely unlike any project I’ve worked on before,” she said.
Having them rehearse one role one night, and the opposite role the next night seemed like the logical approach, she said. How to create the characters added another layer of mystery to solve.
“I’m lucky to have Kyle and Matthew to work with. They’re both just exceptional actors,” she said. “I’ve always tried to be the kind of director that just kind of guides the actors and lets them feel still like they’re creating their characters.
“In the beginning we did a lot of talking about how we all interpreted the script, and what we thought the characters might grow into. I really encouraged them to let their version of Tom and Dan be different than the other’s, just to explore the possibilities. That’s really what’s great about that type of live performances. It’s a little different every time.”
It took a lot of sleuthing on Covington’s part to even launch the project. It took her six months to track down the script. She called other theaters that had produced the show, which led her to the playwright’s agent and then to the playwright, Tony Piccirillo. She’s had some contact with him, which is another first in her directing realm. That experience has been “kinda cool,” she said.
The action takes place in a small apartment, so they’re using just enough scenery to give the feeling of an abandoned apartment, she said. And since seating is limited the intimate performing venue that houses Jason Alberty’s Foundry Performance Laboratory, the audience will feel on top of the action.
“I can’t say enough about Matthew and Kyle,” Covington said. “They’re incredible, and they work so hard. They’re so talented and fun to watch. We just have such interesting rehearsals.”
WHAT: “The 24th Day”
WHERE: Shores Event Center, lower level, 700 16th St. NE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday (8/30) and Saturday (9/3), 2:30 p.m. Sunday (9/1) and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 to 6
TICKETS: $10 general seating, at the door or <URL destination="https://hooplatix.com/organizations/shores-event-center">Hooplatix.com/organizations/shores-event-center
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