48 Hours to Action gives student artists an HIV-activist-related theme, two days, and the task of creating a performance piece to engage and inspire the audience on World AIDS Day. While the event had been successful with artists working individually, we decided to raise the stakes and put a group of students together to create the entire show as a collective. This group, known as the UCLA Sex Squad, works together to learn about HIV and safe sex, and then creates a performance which uses humor, the performing arts and honest, personal stories to spread awareness. After World AIDS Day, the material is edited into a 45-minute performance that tours Los Angeles high schools. Themes for previous years have included “Show Me,” “Through Positive Eyes” and “No Cure Doesn’t Equal No Solution.”
48 Hours to Action originally began in 2006 in conjunction with the arrival of the Keiskamma Altarpiece to UCLA. Each year the event has taken on a slightly different shape with the altarpiece in 2006, Anurupa Roy performing puppetry in 2007, and L.A. hip-hop group the Elevaters featuring Adam Stern in 2008, and The Jakes in 2009. What endures is the sense of urgency the process creates, and that people leave the theater having been part of a creative activist community.
The event is very decidedly 48 Hours “to” Action and not 48 Hours “of” Action. The real action begins when the audience leaves the theater more aware and mobilized to act in the outside world.