B.U.S. 10 Speeds Through Pittsburgh

Published On February 18, 2015 | By Theo McCauley | The Arts
bus 10 mono

Photo Credit: Jason Cohn

Imagine it’s 8 o’clock on a Friday night. You’re at the intersection of Fifth and Morewood in Downtown Pittsburgh. You’re clutching a moleskin notebook and a ball point pen. You’re waiting for a bus. You’ve been given very specific instructions not to start until the bus gets there, but you can’t help yourself… Everything around you is raw material waiting to be sculpted. The 71D pulls up to the curb, finally. You step on, pay the fair, and start the clock.

This is what’s called ‘minute one’ for a playwright that’s been recruited for the tenth installment of the Bricolage Urban Scrawl (B.U.S. 10 for short). B.U.S. is an annual showcase fundraiser put on by the Bricolage Theater to benefit their upcoming season, and it gives both distinguished stage veterans and Pittsburgh stage ‘newbies’ the opportunity to put their theatrical skills to the test. Audiences should know that the February 28 premier is quickly approaching, but the theater hasn’t even thought about starting production yet! Everything you see on stage will be written, produced, cast, and rehearsed – all within the 24 hours following the moment the playwrights step onto their bus.

It is a heck of a ride, but it feels like hell. Six writers are assigned the task of composing a 10-minute play inspired by their 90-minute city bus ride through downtown Pittsburgh and its surrounding boroughs. They can write about lucky pennies, tiny dogs, or old men feeding pigeons, but before any words are officially written, writers are treated to a parade of talent from 24 local actors hoping to help build the best play of the evening.

bus 10 cast

Photo Credit: Jason Cohn

Writers then assemble and bid on actors and actresses a la the NBA Draft Pick: arguing and trading while trying to assemble three unique faces and personalities that they think could carry an entertaining play. Once the actors are chosen, the writers go home to assemble their plays. There’s no time for hesitation, and definitely no time for writer’s block.

Bright and early the next morning, directors and actors arrive at the New Hazlett Theatre. The directors choose their plays, and the actors work on getting off-book. They have to work quickly because they don’t have much time to learn the play. Show time is at 8PM that night. Exactly 24 hours after minute one.

Check out this short video by John Cohn of a previous B.U.S. stop, and make sure to grab your tickets for the upcoming performances. Additional info, including times and ticket packages/prices, can be found on the Bricolage Theater website.

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