Bethnal Green actor prepares for 50-hour stage stint

WE’VE all heard the horror stories about what serious sleep deprivation can do to us mere mortals.

Hallucinations, paranoia, that crazed look in the eye.

If watching professional actors go through the rigmarole of all of the above appeals to you – and you are a stickler for theatre with a difference – then get down to Hoxton Hall on January 21.

Twenty actors have signed themselves up for a 50-hour non-stop stint on stage in the Improvathon, which is in its second year at the venue.

They will be joined by many more who are not quite ready for constant bouts of eye-rubbing and dazed mumblings, but will no doubt relish the opportunity to get their normally-coherent peers to say, well, anything probably.

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Dylan Emery, who both organises the event and acts in it, stuck it out for the full two-and-a-bit days last year and clearly cannot wait to see the mischief unfold once more.

He said: “People get so tired they can’t judge what they should or shouldn’t do. You lose your sense of censorship. Someone once told me after 30 hours the actors are peeled back to their lizard brains. It’s pretty gripping.”

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Set with a comic theme, the show will be led by a narrator and split into 1hour 45minute episodes, which are completely improvised.

Dylan, from Baxendale Street, Bethnal Green, explained: “At the beginning of each show, the characters will introduce themselves for new audience members. We then have to make up what happens and the narrator has to cope with that.”

At any one time there will be around 25 actors on stages.

But what if someone falls asleep during a scene?

Dylan joked: “People do sometimes slump. I remember waking up in the middle of a song last year and I was still playing piano. I was probably only asleep for about 30 seconds but I looked at my fingers and thought, ‘what am I doing?!’

“We’ll play with the audience members too. We’ll drag them into the middle of a scene and wake them up.”

And don’t go thinking that those lasting the full stint must have had a little chemical help.

“50 hours is too long for any drug you can imagine,” Dylan added.

“A Red Bull will last for about two hours, then you crash and need another one. Imagine doing that for 50 hours.”

For those who always veer on the side of caution, after a bit of Googling, it appears that the human body can go without a kip for a fair bit more than 50 hours before things start to go a bit pear-shaped.

So you won’t do yourself any long-term damage but you’ll probably never look at a stage the same way again.

The Improvathon begins at Hoxton Hall, in Shoreditch at 7pm on Friday January 21 and finishes at 9pm on Sunday 23.

Tickets are �10 for peak episodes at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm and �5 for all other episodes.


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