The challenge: Learn an entire Shakespeare play in 24 hours.

The payoff: an unpredictable and likely memorable performance for the actors and their audience.

Actors' Theatre of Columbus will revive its "24-hour Shakespeare" at 8 p.m. April 28 in Notes, the downstairs space at Copious, 520 S. High St. in the Brewery District.

Tickets are $15 in advance online and available at theactorstheatre.org. Online ordering ensures a seat at the performance, said Philip J. Hickman, artistic director for the German Village-based troupe. Patrons who choose not to order online can give a freewill donation at the gate. Those who have Actors' Theatre memberships will be admitted at no charge.

The theater company performed its first 24-hour Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," last year at Notes.

Shaun Brown, who performed in last year's show, said it was "really interesting for everyone, not only the actors."

"It was fun and a little terrifying all at the same time," Brown said. "You have a little bit of panic because you only have 24 hours do this."

Hickman said scripts will be handed out the evening before the show and roles randomly assigned. That means a middle-aged man could play the role of an ingenue while a woman could play a brutish antagonist.

Actors will be dressed in full regalia and given the appropriate props.

"Because of the way that it's performed, the actors have only had about eight hours of rehearsal, which is very little," Hickman said. "And they're very surprised, just as anyone else, with the stuff that's happening."

Prompters will be used to relay lines to actors who forget their dialogue.

Hickman is keeping his play selection closely guarded.

He said even those who perform with Actors' Theatre, the quintessential "Shakespeare in the Park" – Schiller Park to be exact – company, might be a little rusty on all the playwright's work.

"It might be a play somebody has read a few years ago, but the selection that I'm down to will be a play that's familiar," Hickman said. "But it doesn't mean any of the actors have performed in it and maybe only read it."

Hickman said the play will be edited "for time and fun."

"The idea is to have fun with it and be entertained by it," he said. "Committing to an hour and 15 minutes is fun for everybody and in the threshold for the actors."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary