André De Shields, Lynn Nottage, Peter Jay Fernandez, Aja Naomi King, Jelani Alladin, Rebecca Naomi Jones & More Participate in THE 24 HOUR PLAYS: VIRAL MONOLOGUES; COVID & INCARCERATION; Airs Tonight on IGTV @24hourplays

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues is collaborating with several arts and advocacy organizations – The Broadway Advocacy Coalition; The Confined Arts; RAPP; Zealous, The Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School and American Friends Service Committee – to feature real stories from those currently and previously incarcerated, their families, and the advocates serving them during this global pandemic.

Last week, celebrated playwrights were paired with individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated and advocates to hear their stories, either from live calls or previously documented material. Overnight, the playwrights wrote brand-new monologues based on the stories from the interviews. The result will be a not-to-be-missed special edition of the Viral Monologues, “COVID & Incarceration,” airing TONIGHT on IGTV @24hourplays and at From 6 PM on, the new monologues will be published, one every 15 minutes.

The performers stepping up to the plate this week include Jelani Alladin, Pascale Armand, Ato Blankson-Wood, Maggie Bofill, Madeline Brewer, André De Shields, Peter Jay Fernandez, Alex Hernandez, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Aja Naomi King, L Morgan Lee, Deirdre Lovejoy, John Clarence Stewart and DeSean Terry. They will bring to life new works by Lemon Andersen, Hilary Bettis, Jordan E. Cooper, Michael John Garcés, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, Emily Mann, Roger Q Mason, DeRay Mckesson, Tony Meneses, NSangou Njikam, Lynn Nottage, Liza Jessie Peterson, Shaka Senghor and Stevie Walker-Webb.

“During this pandemic, we’ve built an incredible platform for theatermakers to collaborate and share work through The 24 Hour Plays process,” said artistic director Mark Armstrong, “and this week we’re pleased to be sharing that platform and process with the amazing organizations and individuals who are demanding justice for incarcerated people during this crisis.”

“The RAPP [Release Aging People in Prison ] Campaign is teaming up with The 24 Hour Plays and other advocacy groups to amplify incarcerated people and their family members’ painful experiences exacerbated during this pandemic. Right now, tens of thousands of people across the country are at extreme risk of COVID-19 in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers. We hope to build a stronger movement and put pressure on decision makers to take every available action to save lives in the wake of the global pandemic,” said RAPP’s Associate Director, Dave George.

“We must do everything we can to make it impossible for those in a position of power to ignore or be indifferent to human suffering any longer. Amplifying firsthand experience and perspective by those impacted by incarceration is the most compelling way to communicate the urgent need to release as many people as possible, improve conditions of confinement until release, and support people once released with housing, health care, benefits, and other social services,” said Scott Hechinger, Director of Zealous.

“The Broadway Advocacy Coalition is joining with other advocacy organizations to help bring to light the catastrophic impact of the global pandemic on those who are currently incarcerated,” said BAC President Britton Smith. “We know that stories powerfully told can communicate the urgency of the crisis and the humanity of those affected. We’re using narrative combined with artistry to amplify the voices and experiences of those individuals, their families, and those advocating for them, who are often left out of the dominant narrative.”

At the start of The 24 Hour Plays process on Monday, May 11 at 6 PM, actors shared brief orientation-style videos that allowed the writers to get to know them better. By 7 PM, writers and actors were paired, and writers went to work on crafting new monologues especially for their assigned actors, highlighting the experiences of the directly impacted advocates. This morning, advocates had the first look at the brand-new monologues before the actors started rehearsing and filming their performances. At 6 PM the video monologues will begin to be released to the world, completing the 24-hour cycle.

The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues are produced by Coleman Ray Clark and Madelyn Paquette. The artistic director of The 24 Hour Plays is Mark Armstrong. The creation of this week’s special edition was additionally led by Ben Wexler, Britton Smith, Alejo Rodriguez, Susan Sturm, and Robb Nanus from the Broadway Advocacy Coalition; Pastor Isaac Scott, Leia Squillace, Ivan Calaff, and Lauren Hagani from The Confined Arts; Rosie Rios and Amanda Maisel from RAPP; Scott Hechinger, Jack Duran and Crystal Maloney from Zealous; Jaqueline Williams from American Friends Service Committee; and Susan Sturm and Caroline Golub from the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School.

This Special Edition of Viral Monologues is made possible by the support of Broadway Cares / Equity Fights Aids.

The 24 Hour Plays are known for their work on Broadway, off-Broadway and around the world. Since 1995, their events have brought together extraordinary artists to create time-limited theater. Past participants including Jennifer Aniston, Laverne Cox, Billy Crudup, David Cross, Rosario Dawson, Daveed Diggs, Peter Dinklage, Rachel Dratch, Jesse Eisenberg, Edie Falco, America Ferrera, Greta Gerwig, Oscar Isaac, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Julianne Moore, Tracy Morgan, Cynthia Nixon, Anna Paquin, Rosie Perez, Phylicia Rashad, Chris Rock, Sam Rockwell, Liev Schreiber, Amanda Seyfried, Michael Shannon, Gabourey Sidibe, Sarah Silverman, Marisa Tomei, Naomi Watts and more!

To take action:

More information for those who would like to support The 24 Hour Plays or attend a live performance in the future is available at

DC Theatre Scene: Viral Monologues’ series “COVID AND INCARCERATION” hard truths, powerful telling 

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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