Philly Young Playwrights’ ‘Lost Hour’ is intergenerational, inventive and interactive

“The Lost Hour,” an original play created for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) asks what we would do if we got back a single wasted hour to make something right. Would we take the second chance or blow it?

We all waste time. We procrastinate, zone out in front of the TV, swirl down the time-sucking black hole of Twitter and Facebook. “The Lost Hour,” an original play created for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) asks what we would do if we got back a single wasted hour to make something right. Would we take the second chance or blow it?

The production came about through a unique collaboration with the University of the Arts and Philadelphy Young Playwrights (PYP). Under the direction of PYP’s Executive Producing Director Glen Knapp and Time Machine Project Director David Bradley, high school students, university students and professional actors worked together to create what would eventually become “The Lost Hour.”

Bradley facilitated a series of workshops leading up to the performance, creating improvised scenes and exploring themes of time travel. Working in groups, actors improvised characters and dialogue on the spot, experimenting with movement and languge as the scene progressed.

The workshops helped the actors identify the scenes that would eventually comprise the play.

The first performance was a 10:30 a.m. matinee attended by students and classmates of the actors. The audience in the Kimmell Center’s black box Innovation Studio rocked along to a time-themed pre-show soundtrack of Michael Jackson, TLC and other rock and hip hop tunes that were hits before most of them were born.

Cast members switched fluidly between white-coated Time Keepers who controlled the granting of hours, and characters trying to use the hour wisely — among them, two nerdy girls finding love, a man letting go of his dying wife, a father reconciling with a child he abandoned.

In the “talk back” after the performance the audience had a lively question-and-answer session with the cast. Director David Bradley talked about how the ensemble brainstormed ideas for scenes during workshops and how “rehearsals helped distill the scenes.”

Commenting on the workshop process and the support of his castmates, actor Chris Bresky said, “I have never been able to make such big mistakes and not be afraid of judgment.”

The final performance of “The Lost Hour” is Friday, April 26, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at The Kimmel Center.

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