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Pigpen Profiles: The Shake-Smash Ensemble

The first Shake-Smash is right around the corner (if that corner took four days to turn around)! To continue our tradition of spotlighting the fantastic people we work with, we want to profile our whole nine-person ensemble cast for this show!

The ensemble has been broken into two smaller casts that each handle half the shows. The first group is directed by our Outreach Director,Tony Moschetti, and performs the shows The Tragedy of Ravenna Rose, How Much of Me is You, Casting Call, The Tragedy of Beth and Mac, and The Shakespeare Project:

Thomas F. Graca

Painter/Suitor- The Tragedy of Ravenna Rose

Antony- How Much of Me is You

Martin- Casting Call

Witch- The Tragedy of Beth and Mac

Romeo (Bill)- The Shakespeare Project

•What is your performance background?

I’ve been performing around the valley for 13 years in both community and youth theatre and I’ve even been recognized by both the AriZoni Awards and the National Youth Arts Awards.

•What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

My favorite play by dear Bill has got to be Twelfth Night.

•Which of your characters do you most relate to?

The character I most relate to in these shows is probably Bill as Romeo. Even though I didn’t drop out of high school and have never been in a student film.

•Which do you prefer: Comedy or Tragedy?

When it comes to the question of Comedy or Tragedy, I find Comedies with a hint of tragedy, it Tragedies with comedic moments to really hit the sweet spot.

•What is a favorite quote from one of the shows?

The line that stands out to me the most, is “Routine dulls love’s dagger” in the play Casting Call.

•Completely unrelated: What is your favorite kind of pie?

My favorite kind of pie is admittedly Peach Cobbler.

•What is one thing people should know about you?

Something most folks should know about me is that old movies are a way of life. They are the fuel of my inspiration, and the soothing of my soul.

Dolores Mendoza

Grandmother- The Tragedy of Ravenna Rose

Fulvia- How Much of Me is You

Witch- The Tragedy of Beth and Mac

Mrs. Peterson- The Shakespeare Project

What is your performance background?

I’m a student actor.  I had previously only acted in one community play after being in a few high school productions back in my hometown of El Paso, TX before taking a 10-year hiatus from theater to work in retail, then corporate America here in the Valley.  After realizing how much I missed it, I was lucky to be cast in a few roles at Mesa Community College and do some properties and set dressing design work, before most recently being cast in my third professional production as Blythe Donnelly in Stray Cat Theater’s upcoming show, “Two Mile Hollow”.

What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

I’m sure it’s cliche, but Midsummer Night’s Dream will always hold a special place in my heart.  It was the very first play I was cast in (the ONLY 6th grader who landed a speaking part, thank you very much).  The mistaken love, fairies, the trickster Puck, a play within a play… It’s just so fun, a great introduction to the worlds of Shakespeare!

Which of your characters do you most relate to?

There is actually a lot of myself in all of the characters I get to play, but if I had to pick one, I probably relate the most to Jan Peterson in “The Shakespeare Project”.  She’s friendly, supportive, softspoken, underestimated, and willing to stand up for herself and those she cares about when it’s needed.

Which do you prefer: Comedy or Tragedy?

Oh man, there are so many fun parts to both, but I’m going to have to say comedy.  It’s pretty easy to make people feel sad (difficult to make them cry, and that’s SO great when you can do it), but it takes timing, subtly, and skill to make them laugh.  There’s no feeling in the world quiet like making an audience laugh.  I don’t do drugs, but I imagine it’s like drugs.

What is a favorite quote from one of the shows?

All of these pieces have so many wonderful nuggets of prose, but my personal favorites are from the little bits of wisdom Grandmother in “Ravenna Rose” shares that I think many of us need to be reminded of, especially in today’s society:  “Do not fear age, fear ugliness of heart.  What matters?  Are you kind as you are fair?  For beauty lives with kindness, they’re a pair.”  And, “With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come…”  Age isn’t something to fear if it is filled with a life of joy, and a kind heart is the most beautiful of all.

Completely unrelated: What is your favorite kind of pie?

Lemon Meringue is the best pie.  No contest.

What is one thing people should know about you?

I am often unnecessarily verbose.

Arielle Hurst

Ravenna- The Tragedy of Ravenna Rose

Witch- How Much of Me is You

Juliet(Krista)- The Shakespeare Project

What is your performance background?

I got my start in acting with the Laughing Pig Theatre, first taking their acting classes, then participating in performances like the Monologue Café and now, Shake-Smash!

What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

My favorite Shakespearian play is definitely Much Ado About Nothing! I still remember reading it in high school and ~finally~ understanding what was being said well enough to laugh at a joke in the text. That moment turned Shakespeare into art that was interesting and relevant, rather than something to gloss over with Spark Notes.

Which of your characters do you most relate to?

I think Ravenna Rose has a really understandable perspective. Our society is so obsessed with beauty and youth, it’s no surprise an impressionable young woman would wish she were forever young!

Which do you prefer: Comedy or Tragedy?

I’m not one for tear-jerkers and comedies at least give me a chance at a happy ending!

What is a favorite quote from one of the shows?

It’s a long one, but I love shade Cleopatra throws at her lover’s wife, Fulvia:

But she, I’d wager, is of some hardy stock,

That can be got all year round regardless

Of climes, wealth, or elevation. Livestock!

That can be roasted, cured, ground or salted!

For any occasion! If I’m a fig, she’s beef.

Completely unrelated: What is your favorite kind of pie?

Hands down, bourbon banana cream pie.

What is one thing people should know about you?

I have a black belt in taekwondo! I got it when I was 14, so It’s a little rusty, but I still like to consider myself lethal 💪

Michael Rodriguez

Ruddock- The Tragedy of Ravenna Rose

Benjamin- Casting Call

Mac- The Tragedy of Beth and Mac

Michael- The Shakespeare Project

•What is your performance background?

My performance history is pretty slim outside of high school, although I have done a lot of shows while in high school. These include 12th Night, Romeo and Juliet, Wait Until Dark, and The Laramie Project.

•What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

Favorite Shakespeare play would probably be Macbeth. It’s a dream role of mine. Which is why I’m glad I’m sort of playing him in this production!

•Which of your characters do you most relate to?

I relate most to Mac. I am very vulnerable to peer pressure.

•Which do you prefer: Comedy or Tragedy?

Tragedy all the way!

•What is a favorite quote from one of the shows?

.“Shmucks, I tell you!”

•Completely unrelated: What is your favorite kind of pie?

Chocolate pie!

•What is one thing people should know about you?

One thing people should know about me is that i’m much more introverted than my characters make me out it be.

Trejon Dunkley

Cleopatra- How Much of Me is You

Beth- The Tragedy of Beth and Mac

Mrs. Label- The Shakespeare Project

What is your performance background?

I’ve been performing since I was 7. Choir, orchestra, drama, film, standup, you name it, I’ve probably done it. I studied film theory in college, which helped me learn not just how to perform but why we perform. The past three years, I’ve been a stand up comic, and I’m super excited to be back onstage!

What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

I LOVE Macbeth. I love works about guilt and crime, messed-up marriages, and just a taste of magic, and Macbeth has it all. Lady Macbeth is probably one of my favorite characters ever in anything, she’s just such a great example of twisted ambition, and what happens when we limit women.

Which of your characters do you most relate to?

I honestly relate most to Mrs Label. I admit, I can be a little “holier-than-thou” when it comes to literature and film, and can get pretty frustrated when I’m surrounded by people who aren’t taking things as seriously as I am. Sometimes it’s hard being a braniac!

Which do you prefer: Comedy or Tragedy?

I think comedy is harder to pull off correctly, but I thing tragedy is much more satisfying. Getting to feel these huge, often dark emotions is so cathartic, and I come off stage after a particularly heavy scene just feeling lighter in life.

What is a favorite quote from one of the shows?

“We are made kin by our betrayal by you/my fellow-captive, and my sister-wife” -Cleopatra, How Much of Me Is You

Completely unrelated: What is your favorite kind of pie?

Cherry!

What is one thing people should know about you?

When I’m not performing, I’m a huge granny who loves to knit!

Check out the rest of the cast tomorrow, and come see Shake-Smash this weekend only!

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