The Old Vic has announced the initial participants for its fourth annual theatre challenge, The 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala, which this year takes place on Sunday 11 November 2007.

Actors include Ronni Ancona, Rob Brydon, Stephen Campbell Moore, Kwame Kwei-Armah (who participated as a writer in 2004), Ralf Little, Stephen Mangan, Fiona Shaw, Christian Slater, Sharon Small and Samuel West. The directors include Wilson Milam, Anna Mackmin, Josie Rourke and Matt Wilde, and amongst the writers are Bryony Lavery, siblings Nina and Moses Raine and Laura Wade.

The event - introduced by Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey and hosted this year by comedian Ronnie Corbett - provides a unique opportunity to see work by leading actors, writers and directors as the team is challenged to write, rehearse and perform six short plays in just 24 hours on the Old Vic stage. The process begins on the evening of Saturday 10 November and culminates in the performance to a full house on Sunday 11 November at 7.30pm.

The performance will be followed by a glamorous after-show party and all proceeds support Old Vic New Voices, part of the Old Vic’s commitment to nurturing new talent, developing new work, attracting new audiences and engaging the local community. Last year, the gala raised a record £120,000.

Further names are still to be announced for the 2007 event. Previous participants have included Vince Vaughan, Gael Garcia Bernal, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Joseph Fiennes, Tom Hollander, Rosamund Pike, Rufus Sewell, Brooke Shields, Nick Moran, Tom Hardy, Jonathan Cake, Sophie Okenodo, Catherine Tate and Greg Wise. The celebrity gala’s sister event, The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices, caters to emerging artists aged 18 to 25. For the first time, the search is going nationwide for actors, writers, directors and producers to take part in its event on 30 March 2008.

Tickets for The 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala on 11 November 2007 range from £75 to £600 (which includes a year’s Silver Godparent membership to the Old Vic New Voices scheme and programme credits). To book, call the gala hotline on 020 7401 9280 or visit the Old Vic website.


Meanwhile, also on the evening of 11 November 2007, Jonathan Pryce (pictured) – who is currently starring in the West End revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross at the Apollo Theatre – has organised a charity concert, entitled Swing on a Star, at north London’s Almeida Theatre, in aid of local children’s charity Friends United Network.

After a champagne reception from 6.15pm, Pryce will host an amazing array of talent featuring cabaret with Michael Ball, Judi Dench, David Morrissey and Imelda Staunton as well as Pryce himself backed by the the Rat Pack Band. (Pryce’s musical credits include Oliver!, Miss Saigon and My Fair Lady). This will be followed by magicians and further music in the bar.

Friends United Network works in Camden and Islington linking volunteer adult befrienders with children from vulnerable single parent families. It has recently received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Tickets range from £75 to £200 (which includes a meal at the theatre). To book, call 020 7485 0900 or email info@friendsunitednetwork.org.uk.

- by Terri Paddock