4 Plays, 2 Days, Infinite Possibilities

Inspired by Paula Vogel’s playwriting Bake-Off process,  4:48  is a creative sprint to the finish. Four playwrights lock themselves away for two days of furious writing, at the end of which they’ll have four brand new plays all based around the same source material, all incorporating 5 shared story elements.

This project was developed through the Theater Emory Breaking Ground Project in conjucture with the Playwriting Center. 

Learn more about 4:48 on the project's Tumblr here.

Revisiting The 2017 4:48 in Spring 2018

Frankenstein Goes Back to the Lab 2018Directed by Lydia Fort, Frankenstein Goes Back to the Lab reimagined three of the plays written for 4:48 in 2017 and placed them in the Science Commons within the Emory University Atwood Chemisty Center, among the scientific ideas that inspired them. Listen to an interview with playwrights Neely Gossett and Edith Freni here.

The Rites of Men, by Edith Freni
At a closed-door symposium in 1957, a group of the country’s leading scientists debate their visions for a future they fear may never come. One hundred years later, two women trapped in a prison camp use folk magic to escape their dire circumstances. One hundred years after that, the consequences of that magic are realized in a lab-created monster who is desperate to understand what it means to be a human man.

Indian Maeve, by Neeley Gosset 
Nadine, a lepidopterist, travels to India in order to clone a subspecies of butterflies that has disappeared due to a year without summer. While on her journey, she must also make a personal decision about using an Indian surrogate to bear children. The play addresses butterfly cloning and evolution, as well as the ethics of using women in developing nations as pregnancy surrogates.

A Light Beneath the Skin, by Addae Moon 
As Victoria struggles to overcome a traumatic event, a doorway into the future emerges. A LIGHT BENEATH THE SKIN alludes to the moral and ethical concerns of epigenetics and human cloning.

Logos for Frankenstein Goes Back to the Lab Partners
Frankenstein Goes Back to the Lab was produced by The Playwriting Center of Theater Emory for the Atlanta Science Festival, hosted by the Department of Chemistry, and is supported by the Emory Center for Ethics through its Ethics & the Arts and Emory Integrity Project programs. To learn more about the partnership with the Atlanta Science Festival visit the The Lab Report Blog, News from the Emory University Department of Chemistry here.  

The 2017 4:48

Source Material: 

That classic work of Romantic “horror” FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley, in conversation with the research work of Emory STEM faculty members Arri Eisen (Biology), David Lynn (Biological Chemistry) and Carol Worthman (Anthropology) and Sara Imari Walker of Arizona State University (Theoretical Physics and Astrobiology).

Plays and Playwrights:

The White Dwarf by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson

Indian Maeve by Neeley Gossett

The Rights of Men by Edith Freni

A Light Beneth the Skin by Addae Moon

The 2016 4:48

Source Material: The Briarcliff Campus at Emory University.

The Briarcliff Estate was built by Asa Candler Jr., Coca-Cola heir, real-estate tycoon and noted eccentric, in 1922 on 42 acres in what is now the Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta. The estate included a mansion, servants quarters, tennis courts, stables, greenhouses, a zoo, a golf course and a community pool.

In the late 1940s, the Candlers sold the estate to the General Services Administration with plans to build a veterans hospital that never came to be. Instead, it became the site of Georgia’s first alcohol rehabilitation center in 1953 (the year of Asa Candler’s death). From 1975-1997,  Briarcliff housed the Georgia Mental Health Institute—operated by the state with assistance from Emory University. Many of the buildings are connected via a series of underground tunnels and though its fallen into disrepair, much of the mansion’s original architectural features are intact. Also, there are rumors of several hauntings. All of this makes Briarcliff a popular production location for creepy film and TV projects.

While the location is protected by landmark status and the buildings can’t be torn down, they can be left to fall apart on their own. At that point, they could be destroyed through “demolition by neglect.” There is a small but active group of local preservationists trying to ensure that that does not happen. While Emory claims to be in support of the preservation efforts, they estimate the cost of restoring Briarcliff to be around $30 million.

Plays and Playwrights:

Kudzu by Bennett Fisher

The Play that Used to be Titled 1247 Likes goes Swimming in a Cemetery by Dana Lynn Formby

The Animals Have Escaped and the Chandelier Has Vanished by Jireh Breon Holder

The Briars by Briandaniel Oglesby


Christopher Hampton, Matt Mercurio, Kristyl Tift and Natalia Via.


Edith Freni

Lisa Paulsen