Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Theatre Unleashed’s one-act play festival, Passages, is returning to the stage again this year. What originally inspired the festival, and what is the focus of this year’s show?
Ann Hurd: I came up with the concept of this show, to not only showcase the work of our writer’s group but mainly to give an opportunity for actors outside our company, as well as our company members to collaborate. Not only does it give new talent the opportunity to perform on our stage, but it also gives Theatre Unleashed company members the opportunity to work with talented actors who wouldn’t otherwise cross paths. It’s a process which helps us all grow as actors. Particularly, with the Pro99 debate happening, I think it’s so important now more than ever to have shows like Passages to bring us together. We’re all in this together, why not collaborate together?
The focus for this year's show was accomplished when we held auditions, which is amazing!! Passages has increased our theatrical footprint in our arts community. During this year's auditions, we had a few returning actors, which was really flattering. They expressed they had such a good experience last year that performing with us again wasn’t even a question. Goal accomplished! And, as a result of last year's Passages, one actor has joined our company and is directing one of the plays in this year's production. So, we must be doing something right! It can only go upward from here, and we sure are enjoying to the view!
"Love for Beginners" by Cesar Abella / Director: Kire Horton / Photo courtesy of Alicia Reyes
Cast: (front row) Michael Lutheran, Roger Weiss, (back row) Lacy Green, Stepy Kamei, Jahel Corban Caldera
BD: You have quite a talented team of playwrights, actors, and crew members joined together for the festival. What can you tell us about their creative process in bringing Passages to life?
AH: It’s kind of magical how theatre always comes together, and, like magic, you never reveal your secrets! I can say each playwright and director, who are Theatre Unleashed company members, is unique unto themselves, as is their creative process. Each individual brings something special to the stage, and we’re very proud of the time, effort, and dedication people have given to this project.
BD: Theatre Unleashed’s 2015 season has focused heavily on pushing the conversation of gender politics forward. How do you feel that this mission has impacted the writers and performers involved in Passages?
AH: Theatre Unleashed main stage shows like Ligature Marks and Boy Gets Girl did, in fact, focus on the issues of gender politics. They were both shows extremely well done; however, our season’s theme is “Love. Obsession. Death.” and in keeping with that theme, I chose plays that not only touched on this theme, but were also emotionally charged, fun, and entertaining.
Cast: (L to R) Kalyna Leigh and Heather Smith
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
AH: The plays I chose for Passages will hit close to home, are thought provoking, and are just downright run to watch! I think audiences will leave with something to talk about, whether it be thoughts on what happens to us as we age, what we think about ourselves when we look in the mirror, what it was like the first time they fell in love, remembering a crazy past relationship, or quoting their favorite funny line and having a laugh. There’s always a little bit of something for everyone in Passages.
BD: The festival will be appearing at Theatre Unleashed in North Hollywood, CA, from May 14-23, 2015. Are there any future plans to perform the one-act at other venues?
AH: Currently, there are no plans for Passages to perform at other venues this year, but that is something I will consider for next year! Thanks for the suggestion!
BD: Are there any other upcoming shows or projects that you would care to share with our readers?
AH: Theatre Unleashed has been popular in the Hollywood Fringe Festival with our “25 Plays Per Hour” show we’ve done every year. But, we’re branching out, or rather, unleashing ourselves from our standard show type and slipping into something a little more sexy with our show, Sleeping Around. Sleeping Around interweaves the stories of nine very different people searching for intimacy and all connected by sex, relationships, and the sometimes hysterical, sometimes crushing emotional baggage of both. Sleeping Around is written by our company’s own Cesar Abella and directed by Wendy Gough. Click here for more info.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Passages and its appearance at Theatre Unleashed?
AH: There are only three performances left!! Passages performs for one more weekend only! May 21, 22, & 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. We also have a Pay What You Want (PWYW) option: Make a $5 donation to our charity, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, to support Team Diana, and your ticket is PWYW. It’s for a good cause, and you get to see some great, live theatre! For more information about Passages or Team Diana, please visit our website, www.theatreunleashed.org.