Get Involved, Reflection, Upcoming Performance

It’s a Labor of Love

I’m here mainly as an observer. Watching this series of ten-minute plays come together is intriguing. Even as the plays are coming into clarity, Taylor and Tony are spitballing additional creative ideas in the booth. I listen in on what the directors have to say about their interpretations of their chosen scripts. The lighting cues fly over my head, but some of the sound cues have me grinning from ear to ear.

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Taylor tells me that twenty-four hour theatre has a tendency to breed unusual things. She lets me read the scripts and I’m reminded of late nights during college. We’d stay up all night, spitting out lines of poetry and agonizing over whether or not the words we were laboriously cranking out on a friend’s typewriter adequately described our torment, our elation, our early-twenty-something-ness. We’d pull our favorite albums from the same friend’s vinyl collection and dance and laugh and commiserate until, sometime after the witching hour, all inhibition finally left our writing.

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After it all, there we’d be, a huddle of creatives lauding each other’s guts and quoting each other’s perfectly imperfect words. It was, much like Laughing Pig’s twenty-four hour theatre project, a labor of love.

Step behind the scenes at Laughing Pig Theatre and try not to admire everyone involved just a little bit.

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The writers who cranked out tonight’s ten-minute plays in a span of ten short hours left bits of themselves hidden in the scripts. In between the lines, you can see who they are when they have the courage to let go of their inhibitions and roll with the unusual.

The directors have such clear visions for their plays. I’m in awe of the amount of creativity and brain power it takes to look at these scripts in the ways they have. You can see how much they care about this project as they posit scenarios to their performers and give guidance around lines and movements. These are out-of-the box thinkers working under a time crunch and it seems to have only served them well.

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Tonight’s performers are doing an incredible job of bringing the writers’ scripts to life. From the realistic to the absurd, they’re bringing worlds to life right before our eyes. They’re rounding out their characters from top to toe and making every moment believable.

What seemed daunting before has quickly turned into something that seems entirely possible.
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So if you’re in the mood to laugh, to get drawn into story lines generated in the dead of night, and to spend an evening with a group of talented people who want to present to you the results of their labor of love, make some time to come out to the Mesa Arts Center tonight at either 7:30 or 9:00. The product of their hard work will not fail to make your night.

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Alaina Bair wrote this article.

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

East Valley Overnight Theatre, time is ticking!

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The fluorescent yellow light of the acting studio at the Mesa Arts Center lights up the landing at the top of the stairs. Through the windows, you can see rows of people chatting and waiting for the meeting to begin. There is a flurry of activity near the door as performers, directors, and writers all check in. On the board, there is a schedule for the next twenty-four hours. It looks daunting. Outside of a brief flirtation with the idea of submitting a play to my university’s twenty-four hour theatre project, I’ve never been involved with an experience like this. I’m in awe of the fact that this is even possible.
Taylor and Tony have a way of putting people at ease. Their enthusiasm and wit bring levity to the meeting. This is the first time that everyone involved with the East Valley Overnight Theatre is in the same room. Some people are Laughing Pig veterans. For some, twenty-four hour theatre is old hat. There are a couple of us who are brand new to the experience. Something that I admire most about Taylor and Tony is the way they are able to build a supportive, caring community out of a room of people who have one overarching thing in common: a love of theatre. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Their deep, abiding love for theatre is palpable.
They make an intimidating schedule sound like a fun, easy walk in the park.
After a discussion surrounding the schedule and expectations, everyone participates in the performer raffle. It’s interesting to see the writers and performers come together. In order to ignite the creative process, the performers have brought in either costumes or props to (hopefully) inspire their writers. Each group immediately has a different atmosphere. Some debate the merits of certain items. Others are huddled around tables and locked into deep discussions of what they envision for their play.
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Smiles and laughter permeate the acting studio. Everyone in this room is here because they love the work they’re about to do. The camaraderie that comes with knowing you’re surrounded by people of a like mind has already begun to bond everyone together. Everyone, performers, writers, and directors alike, is in this room tonight because they love giving their all to the theatre.
The writers leave fairly quickly. They each have about ten hours to produce a play and time is flitting away. Taylor reminds them of the second wind party at Denny’s should they need it. The big grin on her face belies her excitement at the possibility of this party. She’s anticipating the thrill she finds in being a sounding board for writers. It’s up to the writers, though, if they feel a need for her skills. Time will tell.
And time is ticking.
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Alaina Bair wrote this article

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

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/