Reflection, Upcoming Performance

Per: A New Take on the True Crime Dialogue

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Last night, Laughing Pig Theatre opened the world premiere of Per by Donald Loftus. The playwright flew in specifically for the occasion, the audience was packed, and the dedicated artists at Laughing Pig carried the moment off with all of the momentousness a world premiere demands.

The artists at Laughing Pig Theatre are unafraid to take chances on controversy. This summer, they brought Abortion Road Trip to the Valley. This weekend and next weekend (September 27 and 28th), Laughing Pig Theatre brings to life the story of a young man named Per who has been locked away in Konradsberg insane asylum. From the moment the first act starts, you know this is something new for our theatre company. It feels fresh and experimental. But despite the fact that Per is something of a different direction for Laughing Pig, nothing about it feels contrived or like it’s trying too hard.

As something of a true crime buff, I walked into the opening night of Per with high expectations and I was not disappointed. And having been fortunate enough to sit in on the auditions for the show, I knew this was going to be something special. Erin Cote’s casting choices during auditions left me with chills that carried into opening night. This is her directorial debut, but you’d never guess with her talent for picking the right actor for each role. Her target audience will come for the true crime and get sucked into the gripping reality that she and her actors have created.

Per’s story makes you question what “truth” actually is. There’s perception and there’s reality, and then there’s the way our perceptions mold our realities. Per (Nathan Smith) lives out his days in the Konradsberg asylum, tormented by the ghosts of his executed mother and his murdered wife. As he unravels the story and comes to terms with his demons, the audience watches, enthralled, as corruption bleeds into the stark white set. Dolores E. Mendoza will send chills rattling down your spine right before the climax of the play. I literally leaned back in my seat and stared at her, mouth ajar, wanting to know the truth.

It’s not all blood curdling screams from Natalie Payan’s Mrs. Arnborg (she also plays the nurse) or devastating looks from Eliana Burns’ Hannah, though. Tony Moschetti brings some unexpected levity to the beginning of Per as the church’s father (he also plays a dual role as Per’s doctor).

Per is a different format than we usually get for a true crime. I digest true crime in all ways: novels, podcasts, T.V. shows… Laughing Pig Theatre’s production of this play proves that different is not a bad thing. Loftus’ story is an interesting take on true crime dialogue. Sure, you’re not getting comic relief that’s intended to distract from the horror, and you’re not getting a new tome to add to your true crime library, but what you’re getting is eighty uninterrupted minutes of terror and suspense. There are no streaming platforms asking if you’re still watching this gruesome story, there are no commercials barging in right at the juiciest parts, and there is no one interrupting your quiet reading time. It’s you and the other audience members, held in thrall by Laughing Pig Theatre’s insanely talented cast and crew (no pun intended).

 

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Article written by Alaina Bair

Alaina is a writer who lives in Phoenix. She is a proud feminist and likes to spend her spare time volunteering with women’s rights organizations, reading voraciously, and spending time with her loved ones.

 

Reflection, Upcoming Performance

Fearless Vulnerability: a look at Abortion Road Trip by Rachel Lynett

ARTAbortion. It’s a word that puts everyone on edge. Science versus religion. Democrats versus Republicans. Men versus women. Person versus person. The word causes arguments to sling from all sides. Rarely do people stop shouting each other down to actually listen to the scientific research or the logic behind Roe v. Wade. This past weekend, the talented team over at Laughing Pig Theatre held a limited engagement of Rachel Lynett’s Abortion Road Trip. The title itself is a loaded gun, especially in our current political climate, but the show provided the perfect setting to shed light on this pertinent issue and engage the community in an important discussion.

Abortion Road Trip is a thought-provoking work. Three individual women whose three vastly different circumstances all ended with the same decision unknowingly join together for a journey that breaks them down and finally asks them to allow themselves the vulnerability to let their peers be vulnerable as well. Because that’s what vulnerability needs—the willingness of the listener or supporter to also be vulnerable.

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How do we allow ourselves that vulnerability, though? How do we deal with our own tumultuous emotions in someone else’s emotionally charged situation, especially if it’s something that so resembles something we went through ourselves? Vulnerability and honesty beget good relationships—not just relationships of a romantic sort, but relationships of all natures. So if we know those stakes, it’s about finding the strength to trust ourselves with someone else’s heart and allowing them the same chance to accept ours as well.

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That’s what Lynett’s carefully-crafted dialogue leads to. In the deft hands of Taylor Moschetti, Minnie is the big sister and best friend everyone knows. She’s savvy, sassy, and has a big heart. And when she takes the final step to break down her emotional barriers, you feel it. Her vulnerability brings all three women together in a show of solidarity. Without that willingness, Katya Orozco’s Lexa would never realize that she doesn’t just have to draw strength from herself. And Elaine Zimpleman’s Driver provides the unexpected, tentative warmth of a stranger who knows how important it is to never feel alone when you’re in your darkest moments. (Clare Thompson and Lydia Corbin cannot be excluded from this praise. Without Thompson’s Quinn and her erratic, misplaced displays of the wrong kind of support, the audience wouldn’t have the glimpse they needed into the other side of the argument. Corbin’s Mom shows us all how important unconditional love, support, and acceptance are in this world.)

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Under Tony Moschetti’s direction, Rachel Lynett’s play and the following talkback blossomed into an opportunity for understanding. Not only were the actors’ emotions tangible, but the audience’s emotions were tangible as well. The room was charged, electric. Catharsis felt imminent. The vulnerability was fragile. It’s a testament to the directing and the acting that such intense emotions were still felt in the aftermath of the play. It’s a good day when you can sit down in a room full of virtual strangers and talk without the shame or judgment that usually holds us back.

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Laughing Pig Theatre does an amazing job of creating a real, emotional experience for their audiences. If you’re looking for shows with talent and heart by the Mesa Arts Center. Laughing Pig Theatre is unafraid to present material on topics that are toughest. They are unafraid to ask their actors to dig deep. No doubt you’ll be thoroughly impressed by the world premiere of Donald Loftus’ Per. September 20, 21, 27, or 28—save any of those dates and check out another amazing performance from a theater company whose star shines bright across the Valley.

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Article written by Alaina Bair

Alaina is a writer who lives in Phoenix. She is a proud feminist and likes to spend her spare time volunteering with women’s rights organizations, reading voraciously, and spending time with her loved ones.

 

Reflection

Reflecting on our first Monologue Cafe

Linda Brown, of landmark case Brown Vs. Board of Education, died on Sunday. March for Our Lives took place across the country on Saturday to call attention to the atrocity of gun violence in the United States. 

Laughing Pig Theatre’s first Monologue Cafe addressing abuses of privilege and power also took place over the weekend. Our mission? To address violence, oppression, and abuses of privilege in our local community by sharing experiences and engaging in dialogue. We collected true stories, then placed those stories in the hands of 11 performers who brought each one to life. On Friday evening we followed the show with a processing session for writers, performers, and audience members. The cafe brought together a diverse, gracious, and enthusiastic group. It was inspiring to engage in the conversation with everyone who came out to participate, support and grow with us.

Writers and performers, we at Laughing Pig Theatre are stunned by and in awe of your courage, heart and humor. Without you all this wouldn’t have been possible. An enormous thank you goes out to: Julia Wallace, Patsy Parker, Dori Honovi, Darcy Cochran, Pina, Belen Markus, Arielle Hurst, Mindy Judson-Garcia, Tayo Talabi, Avery Volk, Sawyer Walter, Mara Nadolski, Katlyn Roberts, and Amy Palmer.

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Writer, Dori Honovi meeting the actors who performed her work post show: Darcy (left) and Avery (right). What a powerful trio!

Want to learn more, take action, or seek help for yourself/someone you love? Here are some inspiring organizations working toward a more just Maricopa County:
ACLU Arizona: https://www.acluaz.org/en
ALANON/ALA-Teen: http://al-anon-az.org/find-a-meeting/
A New Leaf: http://www.turnanewleaf.org/
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence: http://www.acesdv.org/
Arizona Foundation For Women: http://www.azfw.org/
Hope Women’s Center: https://www.hopewomenscenter.org/
NAACP Maricopa County: http://maricopanaacp.org/about-the-maricopa-county-branch/
Refuge Recovery:  https://www.refugerecovery.org/
SAAF Anti-Violence Programs: https://saaf.org/care-services/anti-violence-programs/

Improv, Photo Gallery, Reflection

What A Great Night!

THANK YOU to everyone who joined us for a great evening of improv and play on Friday. Enjoy a these highlights from the evening:

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Gift Giving 101
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Warming up at the thunder dome.
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Tony Moschetti (back corner) facilitated the workshop portion of our evening.

Each one teach one is at the heart of our approach to theatre and community engagement, and it is you, our community who make this work (and play) possible. Big love to you.

If you had fun, pass it on! If you missed us on Friday fear not! There’s plenty more in store from Laughing Pig Theatre. Check out our Events Page for details.

Reflection

A Great Night of Improv!

What a great show: the crowd, the laughs, it didn’t suck! #Success

Friday, January 12, marked our inaugural event: A Night of Improv. And we at Laughing Pig couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Ok…if we had all got signed for the Daily Show or SNL, that might have been better (Trevor, Lorne: we’re out here).

Barring that improbability, it was a roaring success: about 30 guests came for the improv show, and about half of you stayed for the workshop. And we all had a great time! Based on your feedback, we’ve done just what we’ve always hoped: create a safe, inclusive space for everyone to be involved.

And for that, we owe you all a BIG THANK YOU: for showing up, for showing out, and for showing your support for local theatre arts (and the financial support is a BIG plus)!

With such a great turnout, you can bet Laughing Pig will bring you another night of improv. Between now and then join us at Mesa Arts Center’ Acting Studio for our Open Improv Jam, Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. We’ll learn basic improv skills, play different improv games, and have an opportunity to socialize and build community around our common interests: the stage…or comedy…or just being silly for a couple hours.

Coming up next from Laughing Pig Theatre:

  • February 9: Improv Techniques for Dialogue – in this 90-minute workshop Ada McCartney will share her teaching and acting expertise by training you in different ways to use improv to improve group dialogue and drive effective, critical conversations. This is a great workshop for students and educators of all levels, professional facilitators, community organizers. Really, anyone who talks to groups of people can benefit from these techniques.
  • March 9: Long Form Improv Show & Workshop: join us for another night of improv, as we delve into “long form” improv theatre. Not as widely seen on stage, these games will focus more on building the world, delivering cohesive scenes, and showing off our acting skills. But dont worry: there will be plenty of laughs to go around.
  • March 23 & 25: Laughing Pig Theatre’s Monologue Café – we’re looking for your original stories related to and inspired by experiences of sexual assault, the abuse of privilege and power, and challenging the status quo. These works will be performed March 23-25, at the Mesa Arts Center. Submissions are due January 27, 2018.

Quick S/O to AlphaGraphics for the prints and stickers that make us look good. Another S/O to Jessika Smyers for the brilliant photos she took. As always, many thanks to Mesa Arts Center for providing a space for us to play. And, again, Thank You for joining us and helping to build a community around Laughing Pig Theatre.

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