Jeffrey Lo Realizes a Decade-Long Dream with ‘The Language Archive’

To say Jeffrey Lo wears many hats would be an understatement. Not only is he the casting director of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, he’s also the director of The Language Archive and a playwright in his own right. “I’ve been fortunate to hold many roles at TheatreWorks,” Lo said, “and the joke is by the time my new business cards get printed, I’ve already changed titles.” I had the pleasure of speaking with Lo over the phone as he headed into tech rehearsal for The Language Archive, which opened July 10.

Danielle Mohlman: Can you share a little bit about The Language Archive? What drew you to this play initially? And why this play now?

Director of 'The Language Archive' Jeffrey Lo
Director of ‘The Language Archive’ Jeffrey Lo. Photo by Tasi Alabastro

Jeffrey Lo: You know, The Language Archive is a play that I have actually been trying to get the chance to direct for about ten years.

Really?

Yeah. I find this play to be one the most beautifully written pieces of theatre I have ever come across. It’s a play about both the beauty and possibility of language, but also the limitation of language. It’s about allowing human beings, as messy as we are, to express ourselves and share how we’re feeling with one another.

Yeah.

And I find that to be so beautiful. So much of this play lives in this world of beautiful coincidences and things happening for a reason. And I think that me getting the opportunity to do The Language Archive now, as opposed to any other time in the ten years that I’ve been chomping at the bit to work on this play, lands in line with that “everything happens for a reason” theme. The first time I ever saw a staged reading of a play was a workshop reading of this play—while it was still in development.

Oh wow.

I was still an undergraduate aspiring playwright and director at UC Irvine. And I just found myself in awe of the language and in awe of the process of a stage reading. I had never seen that before. There was a playwright in the back, Julia Cho, who was taking her notes and revising things as she was going. And there was a group of actors who had three rehearsals beforehand and were just beautifully performing this intense language on stage for us. And I was just in awe of it.

Emily Kuroda emphasizes the importance of love in 'The Language Archive.'
Emily Kuroda emphasizes the importance of love in ‘The Language Archive.’ Photo by Alessandra Mello

After I finished college, I had my directing apprenticeship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and they were doing The Language Archive. So I ended up getting to observe and assistant direct that play and Julia Cho was in the room there. And I fell in love with that play all over again. This was in 2011, maybe my first or second professional theatre job out of college. And it was a time where, outside of school, I had interacted with very few artists of color. That experience working with Laurie Woolery, who is a Latinx director, and the way she mentored me, the way she spoke to me really made me feel like I belonged.

It’s one of those things where everything about The Language Archive has just made it so I have to direct it. And to be able to do that as the first show of the 50th season at TheatreWorks—the final season of Robert Kelley, who I have worked for basically my entire professional career—it’s a real honor.

I rambled. I’m so sorry.

No, that’s really beautiful. All of that was so wonderful. You have such a long history with this play. I’m like, oh my god, can I come see this play?

Oh, please do. Please do.

Jomar Tagatac reflects on how to communicate with wife, Elena Wright, who recently left him in 'The Language Archive.'
Jomar Tagatac reflects on how to communicate with wife, Elena Wright, who recently left him in ‘The Language Archive.’ Photo by Alessandra Mello

What is it about TheatreWorks that keeps you coming back? I don’t want to put the words “artistic home” in your mouth, but you did say that like you’ve been there your whole professional career, so what is it that keeps you engaged in TheatreWorks and excited to come to work every day?

I’ve learned that TheatreWorks’ culture is rare. I didn’t know this until I started to work as a freelancer at other theatres, but so much of what draws me to TheatreWorks is the culture that our Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley has created. I don’t think he ever imagined TheatreWorks was going to become as large as it is today. I don’t think that he ever imagined that, fifty years later, he was going to be on stage at Radio City Music Hall holding up the Regional [Theatre] Tony Award. He really runs this company as just a group of friends just wanting to put on some plays. And as the company has continued to grow, although there’s a lot more paperwork, that feeling of we’re just buddies trying to put on some art that we feel passionate about is still tangible within the room. And I think that’s what keeps me coming back. Because I now know that that’s not how it always works out.

I’m sure people ask you this all the time, but it’s easy to think about Silicon Valley as this tech magnet. But I know that it’s so much more. How do you marry the startup and tech culture of Silicon Valley with the artistry and exploration of theatre in your work?

I’m born and raised in the Bay Area and it’s pretty wild to see how quickly it’s changed. I think once we’re able to engage folks who work in the tech and startup industry, that’s going to allow our art to flourish even more than it already is. But having said that, I like to think that I run my rehearsal room in a way that the most exciting—and safest—tech startups seem to work. I want all of my artists [to] feel like rehearsal is a safe place to take your biggest risks, to be as creative as possible. That way, we can find the most interesting ideas together.


The Language Archive opens TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s 2019-20 season, now playing through August 4 at Lucie Stern Theatre. Tickets are available online.


Danielle Mohlman is a Seattle-based playwright and arts journalist. She’s a frequent contributor to Encore, where she’s written about everything from the intersection of sports and theatre to the landscape of sensory-friendly performances. Danielle’s work can also be found in American Theatre, The Dramatist and on the Quirk Books blog.

Celebrating Love, Revolt and Transformation in Seattle Men’s Chorus’ Upcoming Concert

For their summer concert, the Seattle Men’s Chorus (SMC) commemorates Stonewall’s 50th anniversary with pop music of the 1960s and a commissioned work. Executive Director Steven F. Smith promises the Summer of 69 concert will be full of chart-topping and culture-defining songs to send its audience dancing out the door.

Rosemary Jones: The summer of 1969 may have been called “The Summer of Love”, but it was also a summer of profound social change. What do you think were the most pivotal events that summer?

Steven Smith: Music events like Woodstock might have been part of a culture of love and openness for certain folks, but I think 1969 was about the distillation of righteous anger and action. Stonewall was a flash point for the simmering rage and frustration against discrimination in the LGBT community but it did not happen in isolation. At the same time, Vietnam War protests and rampant racial discrimination were roiling the country. The country was angry. What was pivotal was the need for change from the status quo.

Executive Director Steven Smith. Courtesy of Seattle Men’s Chorus

How do the songs selected for this concert reflect what was happening beneath the surface, as well as the headline-making events?

We wanted to explore the sense of division and “coming-apartness” in the country at that time. In addition to Stonewall, you had “hippies” and war protesters descending on Woodstock, Nixon’s law and order campaign, and the unifying wonder of the first moon landing. If you turned on the radio in 1969, the “Top 40” pop music of the day reflected that culture clash in a way that you don’t hear today. We’ve got the funk of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” juxtaposed with Frank Sinatra’s old school “My Way.” And Neil Diamond’s ultimate sing-along “Sweet Caroline” and Marvin Gaye’s iconic “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” The music reflects the convergence of culture, sex, identity and politics in a way that began to redefine America.

The concert also includes the new musical work “Quiet No More.” Can you describe this piece?

It’s a suite of music theatre style songs commissioned by more than 20 LGBT choruses around the country, including SMC, for this 50th anniversary of Stonewall. It’s a bit of history and a bit of forward-looking inspiration to continue the fight for equality. Because the patrons of the Stonewall Inn (who became victims of police brutality during the uprising) were gay and lesbian and trans folk and people of color, we found diverse composers who reflected these identities to create a collection of songs about what happened during the riot, what it felt like and how it has inspired and reverberated in our community since then.

What’s the one song that you can’t get out of your head after listening to rehearsals?

For the finale we wanted a sense of celebration and unity, so the classic Edwin Hawkins’ gospel song “Oh Happy Day” has had me dancing and swaying all week. It’s timeless and joyful.


Summer of 69 with the Seattle Men’s Chorus takes place at Benaroya Hall, June 21 at 8 p.m. and June 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be found online.


Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for the Cornish MagazineCapitol Hill Times, Encore, Examiner.com and others. Additional work can be seen at rosemaryjones.com.

A Conversation with Choreographers Dammiel Cruz, Miles Pertl and Kiyon C. Ross

Dammiel Cruz, Miles Pertl and Kiyon C. Ross aren’t yet household names, but they will be. Cruz joined the Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 2016 and was promoted to the corps de ballet later that same year. Pertl joined PNB as a corps de ballet dancer in 2015 after being a corps de ballet member at both Stuttgart Ballet in Germany and Het Nationale Ballet in the Netherlands. And Ross joined PNB in 2001, the very same year he created his first piece of choreography. He’s been the NEXT STEP program manager at PNB since 2012, a position he held simultaneously with his career as a soloist at PNB before retiring from dance in 2015.

Together, these three represent the past, present and future of choreography at the Pacific Northwest Ballet and beyond. And because we have sunshine on the brain, we wanted to talk to them about their experience choreographing for the outdoors and how performances like Sculptured Dance (2016–2017) and NEXT STEP: OUTSIDE/IN (2018–present) affect the way they choreograph.

Danielle Mohlman: How does choreographing for an outdoor performance compare to choreographing for a more traditional theatre space?

Dammiel Cruz, choreographer for the 2019 NEXT STEP: OUTSIDE/IN: Choreographing for an outdoor setting can be very different. Luckily a lot of the movement involved in my piece can be easily performed outside. Sometimes dancing on concrete or grass can limit one’s ability to turn well. Either way, I believe dancing outside is a great way to get more of the community involved in the arts! 

Miles Pertl, choreographer of Riding the Wave for the 2018 NEXT STEP: OUTSIDE/IN: Dancing outside offers the dancers and the choreographers a completely different experience. The audience is so close that you can hear every “Oooh,” every sigh, every chuckle. This is a stark contrast to dancing on the stage at McCaw Hall where the audience appears as a black void, only making themselves known by their applause at the end of the performance. Before OUTSIDE/IN, I had danced in both of the first two years’ iterations of Sculptured Dance and fell in love with it. I was exposed to choreographers I had never worked with, met amazing dancers from our city and got to dance outside and mingle with those watching. It was so cool!

Kiyon C. Ross, choreographer of Do. Not. Obstruct. for the 2016 Sculptured Dance: When choreographing for traditional spaces, I know generally what I have to work with. There’s usually a square space with a number of wings for entrances and exits. Sometimes there’s a space for dancers to cross over behind the cyclorama. And usually there’s a curtain—and at the very least top lighting and side lighting. Creating a site-specific work requires the same level of planning, preparation and creative process as choreographing for the stage. But being in a space already occupied by art (like the Olympic Sculpture Park) and using that art as an inspiration, is unforgettable. I certainly had to approach the site-specific commission with flexibility. But that flexibility allowed me to find new ways of expressing movement. It forced me to consider bodies in space in ways that were completely unorthodox to me.

Kiyon C. Ross’s 'Do. Not. Obstruct.' at Summer at SAM: Sculptured Dance, 2016.
Kiyon C. Ross’s ‘Do. Not. Obstruct.’ at Summer at SAM: Sculptured Dance, 2016. Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

What was your most joyful experience choreographing for Sculptured Dance?

Ross: The most joyful experience for me was being able to share my art with so many people. Making art accessible and approachable is extremely important—especially for an art form like dance. Sometimes going to the theatre can create barriers for people, both economically and socially. Having art in your community where you live and being able to access it with your friends and neighbors is a meaningful experience. Seeing the faces in the crowds—and seeing people take a moment from riding their bikes, walking their dogs or their evening strolls to appreciate dance in a space that is meant to be shared by everyone—is certainly a cherished memory from this experience.

PNB’s outdoor performances are free to the community. Talk to me about the importance of accessible art in our community.

Cruz: I absolutely love that PNB’s outdoor performances are free of charge. I believe it’s incredibly important to have accessible art not only in our community, but communities everywhere because it gives the opportunity for all minds to be inspired. Art provides an outlet for people to express themselves. 

Pertl: Art doesn’t need to feel high-minded or elite. By providing accessible art, we provide a place where our entire community can gather. Each one of us gets bogged down with work, school and personal drama. But when you come to an event like OUTSIDE/IN or any of the other events around our city, you are entering a place of community and shared experience. You get a glimpse into the artists’ lives and their experience might mirror your own. Many of the artists I know are creating art not for the money, but for the opportunity to share it with everyone.

This Dialogue has been excerpted and lightly edited from three separate interviews, all conducted in April 2019.


Danielle Mohlman is a nationally produced feminist playwright and arts journalist based in Seattle. Her play Nexus is among the 2015 Honorable Mentions on The Kilroys list. She is an alumnus of the inaugural class of Playwrights’ Arena at Arena Stage and the 2018 Umbrella Project Writers Group.

Anjelica McMillan Gives Us a Taste of the ‘Dream’ at Book-It

For her debut at Book-It Repertory Theatre, Anjelica McMillan plays Neni Jonga, a recent immigrant to the United States, in Behold the Dreamers.

Seattle audiences know McMillan from her work at Theater Schmeater, Annex Theatre and The Horse in Motion, among others. We talked to her about what it was like to portray both the character and the text of Imbolo Mbue’s award-winning novel.

Rosemary Jones: How would you describe Book-It’s style?

Anjelica McMillan: I’ve seen a lot of Book-It plays and always really enjoyed them. I thought they did good work and especially work that addresses controversial topics. It’s important for a theatre to open new perspectives. I saw the recited narrative as a Brechtian device*, not to take you out of the play but to remind you that you are watching a piece of theatre and that what is happening isn’t necessarily happening. That can be a comfort if something is intense.

Has acting in a Book-It show changed your perspective?

Now that I’ve been working with Myra [Platt, the director and adapter for Behold the Dreamers], I know that she thinks of the narrative as an inner monologue. That’s new for me—to be speaking my inner monologue out loud. Also having to find a specific object to give that narrative to, not necessarily talking to [the] audience and breaking the fourth wall for them.

This novel seems like it addresses issues that we’re all discussing now.

It is very timely because of the immigration issues in our country right now. I think back to Welcome to Braggsville (2017). That was the show that made me want to work with Book-It. Because that dealt with the controversy of racism in such an interesting way.

Does the characters’ race or status as immigrants matter the most in this story?

I think the piece speaks more to immigration than it does about race. The big question is whether or not Jende will achieve his green card and they will be able to stay. There are some interesting parallels to some black experience in this country—they end up working for a wealthy white family, which could happen to any black family. Beyond those parallels, you do see some micro-aggressions from the white characters.

Headshot of Anjelica McMillan
Anjelica McMillan. Courtesy of Book-It

How would you describe your character?

Neni is fearless. She is somebody who sees the world as her oyster. She sees anything is possible because she is no longer living under the burden of her family telling [her] what she can do. She’s also changed by what happens. She gets to the States with this innocence and that changes. She also gains an inner strength.

Would you describe yourself as a similar person or different from Neni?

I am kind of a shy, reserved person. I would be much more likely to see myself as not qualified for a job. I can shortchange myself. Neni never does that! She doesn’t have any sense of why couldn’t she do that. She’s exuberant and full of life and energy. In preparation for playing someone like that, I obviously re-read the book and continue to re-read and highlight certain passages. I’m learning to be more free in my body, to embody that youth and exuberance that she has. I’m having a lot of fun playing her and being able channel that energy.

What do you want the audience to understand about Neni?

That Neni is a strong woman, and that she wants to be an independent, strong, interesting African woman. To have a glimpse of what people in Cameroon are like. People assume that everyone in Africa is poor and think of Africa as one nation. There is so much more to Africa. Also to see that certain truths are universal. As they see the characters, they will find something in common with these people. It’s important to consider issues of immigration and how we treat immigrants in this country.

What’s your favorite moment as Neni?

I really enjoy playing her right after Jende gets hired. She is so excited about him starting a new job and just peppers him—she showers him with questions like confetti. It’s a fun scene to play. They’re just recently married so there’s this joy that comes from being in a new marriage and living a dream—it’s fun to play that scene with Sylvester [Foday Kamara, actor who plays Jende Jonga].

*A Brechtian device is a technique to distance the audience from emotional involvement in the play through reminders of the artificiality of the performance. Coined by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht. Also called the alienation effect or distancing effect.


You can see Anjelica McMillan in Behold the Dreamers at Book-It Repertory Theatre now through June 30.


Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for the Cornish MagazineCapitol Hill Times, Encore, Examiner.com and others. Additional work can be seen at rosemaryjones.com.

Price Suddarth Creates a Signature Ballet Reflecting PNB’s Dancers

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s final show of the season, Themes & Variations, marks the return of Price Suddarth’s Signature to McCaw Hall. The PNB soloist created this piece for PNB’s mainstage repertory in 2015, and it conveys the same fabulous energy that Suddarth has brought to his dance performances in Seattle since 2010. It’s also a highly personal piece crafted from the friendships and knowledge of the company’s dancers that only a true insider could have.

Rosemary Jones: How does your career as a dancer influence your choreography for Signature?

Price Suddarth: As a choreographer my movement style is extremely physical—likely stemming from my own similar movement quality as a dancer currently. In the studio, I begin within the confines of the classical ballet vocabulary, then begin to operate beyond it by developing and “stretching” the physicality within each step. Through this extreme physicality it is possible to research notions like kinetic energy—how it flows through the body and how to demonstrate that to an audience. In the end the desired effect would give the viewer a sense that the dancer is both fighting hard to shape their movements while also being blown through the air like a leaf in the wind.

Signature gives every dancer a distinct movement—their signature style as it were—and you spoke at the time about how connected the choreography was to your work with these dancers in the past. Did you need to adjust anything in the choreography for the 2019 presentation?

Choreographer Price Suddarth. Photo by Lindsay Thomas

In the creation of Signature every section had its own specific theme, largely influenced by the original cast. Coming back to it now I’ve been adjusting and tweaking to tailor these sections to the current dancers while also preserving the original intent. I always say there are 16 members of the cast—15 dancers and myself. While some dancers are new, there are some returning as well as myself. The changes in the piece correspond with those that have happened in the dancers themselves as well as in myself as a person and choreographer over the past few years.

The music is gorgeous and references Vivaldi while actually being an original composition for Signature. How did you work with composer Barret Anspach to achieve this?

Barret Anspach and I corresponded over a two-year period brainstorming how to incorporate Vivaldi music into a new composition and also how to tailor it to dance. Barret is the brother of a former PNB company member so luckily the language of ballet was not an entirely foreign concept to him.

Why was it important for the music to sound familiar to the audience?

Because Signature was my first introduction to the larger Seattle audience as a choreographer, I wanted to make a statement of who I am.  I wanted there to be elements of the whole show that were easily recognizable, demonstrating a common starting place where I would jump from.  My movement goes beyond classical ballet vocabulary thus the music needed to start from a place of understanding and then push past.

Where do you see your career as a choreographer going?

I can’t exactly be sure what’s next. Over the last five years since the premiere I’ve been working with various companies around the country as a choreographer. I’ve been greatly influenced by many different styles and many different voices in various environments. As a result, I’ve found a strong push to develop a very specific choreographic voice to call my own.  I’d love to bring that back to Seattle again.

Which is harder: standing in the wings waiting to dance or sitting in the audience waiting for a piece that you choreographed to be performed?

I’m one hundred percent more nervous waiting for a piece of mine to be performed than preparing to dance myself. There’s something terrifying about giving up all control—even just for 30 minutes between curtains. No matter how much trust you have in your dancers there will always be that brief moment where you can’t do anything and are forced into a passive role while you watch your very personal idea be placed on display for 3,000 people to see.


Price Suddarth’s Signature can be seen as part of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s last performance of the season, Themes & Variations showing now through June 9.


Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for the Cornish MagazineCapitol Hill Times, Encore, Examiner.com and others. Additional work can be seen at rosemaryjones.com.

Talking Conquests and Comedy with John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone

During a workshop of Kiss My Aztec! in New York City this March, Artistic Associate and Assistant Dramaturg Katie Craddock huddled up with John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone in a wee writing studio to learn about the inspiration for this show, the political function of comedy, and their creative partnership.

Katie Craddock: John, where did the idea for this piece come from?

John: I wanted to create a space for our Latin stories, in the same humorous way I’d seen on Broadway with shows like Spamalot and in movies like Blackadder. The general public doesn’t know a lot about Aztec history—for instance, the Aztecs had libraries full of extensive codices, but many were burned by colonizers. Erasing history was (and is) a means of controlling a people.

Tony: When we were auditioning actors for this show, it was really depressing to me how many people had the same two or three shows on their résumés. It was a clear reminder of the paucity of Latin work, and it’s horrifying—there’s no established assumption yet that this work should be done. So you find yourself carving a new pathway, and John’s obviously done a brilliant job of insisting on that—in an inviting way. His genius is that he has found a voice and built a comic relationship with people across many backgrounds that wanna hear from him.

John: And Tony’s been my accomplice. I love working with Tony because he’s a beast for storytelling and narrative; there aren’t too many people on the planet as passionate and obsessed about proper storytelling as Tony. Also, he’s half Puerto Rican. That is so exciting for me—I wanna reach in there and grab that Puerto Rican in him, and tell him that he’s okay.

Tony Taccone, co-writer and director of 'Kiss My Aztec!'
Tony Taccone, co-writer and director of ‘Kiss My Aztec!’ Photo by Cheshire Isaacs

Tony: That’s a real thing for me. I started unconsciously pursuing Latin work about 15 years ago. Susie [Medak, Berkeley Rep’s managing director] pointed it out—she said, “Do you realize how much Latin work you’re doing? Your dormant Puerto Rican genes are blooming here.” But it was working on Latin History for Morons that drove me to make a conscious effort to examine my past, and actually research it. I went back to my mother and relatives and took their oral histories. It’s part of my heritage that could be lost—I need to recapture it and understand where I’m coming from. The pressure on my mother to assimilate was immense. She’s 92 years old and teaches Spanish to this day, but her upbringing was about trying to get in there with white people to succeed.

John: That’s what happens. I grew up in the hood, and all my friends were Latin and Black, but then when I got to college I was like, “Oh my God, I sound different than everybody, I talk different, I have different vernacular, and slang. I need to un-ghetto myself if I’m gonna succeed. ’Cause obviously I rub people the wrong way, and I just stand out too much.” But then I went to auditions and I’m like, “Wait a minute. They want me to be a gang leader, a drug lord, a janitor, or the killer in the episode.” And I’m like, “Wait a minute! I just went through this whole process of assimilating as hard as I could.” So quickly I learned that it didn’t matter how hard I worked, I would not be cast as lawyers or doctors.

Tony: Is that how your solo shows were born?

John: Absolutely. I thought, “Where are the Latin stories? Why aren’t we anywhere?” I needed to make material for myself. ’Cause I knew we were funny, I knew we were intellectual. I knew we had great stories to tell: present, past. So that became my life’s work. You ask yourself, “Why does this matter? What am I doing to change culture?”

This is a piece you are writing but not performing in. Is that something that you knew early on?

John: No, I was writing it for myself originally, about 10 years ago. It was a play then, not a musical. It wasn’t gaining traction. They said it was “funny, but, Aztecs?” They just didn’t get it. I had a lot of stories like that. Stories about Latin culture had no traction in Hollywood or TV. They just couldn’t get it.

How did you decide to not act in it?

John: Well, when it became a musical I was like, “I’m out.” I mean I’ve got an amazing voice, except for pitch or melody; otherwise you’d love to hear me.

Why did you make it a musical?

John: I think the impetus was Spamalot. The way they turned Holy Grail into a musical made me think, “Wow, maybe I can do that with my Aztec piece.” But then I realized I can’t write music, and started working with Benjamin [Velez] and David [Kamp], who can.

Tony: But the sensibility of a lot of the music comes from John—the comic spirit we’re tapping.

John: And you. Tony wants songs to move the plot forward. When I first started writing the musical I thought songs were like in an opera; they could just reveal the unconscious, or just be about emotion that you didn’t see. But it can’t—

Tony: In a musical you have to keep the momentum. It’s a difficult art form. The many elements have to feed each other…and we are trying to write a nontraditional musical. It’s a crazy new hybrid. There’s more book than usual, and we’re doing this Elizabethan/urban slang combination—this colliding of worlds. ’Cause it’s set in the 16th century.

Cast of 'Kiss My Aztec!'.
Cast of ‘Kiss My Aztec!’ Photo by Cheshire Isaacs

What do you find exciting or useful about that combination of period and modern language?

John: I wanted to create an Elizabethan patois. A Shakespearian language with ghetto slang. I love it in my ear—that juxtaposition. I’ve always loved slang, American vernaculars, and urbanisms. I grew up with that, and love hearing it combined with the Elizabethan language.

Are you hoping bridging that linguistic gap will make people draw parallels between the 16th century and now?

Tony: We never lose the sensibility that we are in the present day watching a theatrical event.The frame of the show breaks the fourth wall; it’s a company of actors saying, “We’re both sharing this same world with all its contradictions, challenges, fucked-up-ness, and beauty. And we are all gonna now look at what happened back in 1540.” We’re always trying to make the audience connect it to their own experience today. A lot of the contradictions and injustices are the same, which is depressing.

John: I mean, yes, things haven’t moved as far as we’d like, but we have to remember that progress is never linear—it goes backwards and forward, it’s not steady.

Tony: Yeah. I’ve only been alive in this period of time, but it seems to me from studying history that—

John: Oh you’re much older than you let on, come on. Didn’t you actually polish Cortés’ helmet?

Tony: What a bastard.

John: Yeah, Tony’s drawing from personal experience when we’re talking about the conquest.

Tony: Exactly. Oh, the horses were brutal. What was I saying?

You were talking about history.

Tony: Right. We tend to fall victim to mini cycles of our experience. Trump is elected, so we think, “Oh my God, there’s been no progress. We’re back to square one.” But that’s not really true historically, as John was saying. There is a war going on now. But our sensibility tends to be dominated by the present moment and we forget that if we look back at history, there’s always a struggle.

John: We progress and we regress.

Tony: It’s an ebb and flow. But hopefully the ebb doesn’t take us so far back that we can’t return from it.

On that rather dark note—this piece is full of outrageous humor, but it’s about a murderous oppression and attempted erasure of a people. It’s relentlessly silly, but makes powerful assertions about identity and resilience. Why is it important for you to be telling this dark story with humor?

John Leguizamo, conceiver and writer of 'Kiss My Aztec!'
John Leguizamo, conceiver and writer of ‘Kiss My Aztec!’ Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

John: That’s how I grew up, so that’s my sensibility. I had a very difficult upbringing, and humor was the thing that saved me and my family. And I think part of why I grew up that way is a consequence of the conquest. Like when I even look at some of the violent games that we played in Queens—Hot Peas and Butter, Manhunt, and Knuckles—they’re all games brought on from the conquest. There was such abuse of people, and abuse of families and children. So, I wanted to create this dark world, but also assert that there’s always hope. No matter how dark it is, no matter who the president is, and how much he’s trying to destroy decency and respect of others, it’s still a great time where women are rising in power and Latin people are getting their due. We elected many women, including Latina women, into office in the midterms. A lot of great things are happening even in this darkness.

Tony: That’s a perfect answer, John. The more personal answer for me is that I was the class clown because I had a massive speech impediment. I could not talk in complete sentences until I was in seventh grade. Being funny was the way out—the way to be liked. So I married that personal experience to a worldview. I realized comedy could invite people to look past their own prejudices, and that became part of my aesthetic. Look at Dario Fo—an amazing, political Italian comic who won the Nobel Prize [in 1997 because he “emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”]. Read his acceptance speech—it was very controversial that a clown won the fucking Nobel Prize, but he was a major political thinker using comedy to make people pay attention.

Tell me about the show’s range of musical genres.

John: We wanted a broad bandwidth of Latin music—the salsa, Latin freestyle, merengue, reggaeton, cumbia, as many of the beautiful aspects of Latin music as we could squeeze in, and the dances that come with them. We even throw a tango in there. Our music is everywhere these days. Cardi B is Dominican, and she’s the highest selling female rapper in the world. You got Bruno Mars, he’s Puerto Rican, and he’s doing the pop thing. And then you got Camila Cabello, she’s Cuban and she’s doing a more Latin R&B sound. Latin music goes everywhere, and so that’s what we try to cover, though it’s impossible to completely achieve—the A to Z of Latin music.

What are each of your favorite genres of Latinx music?

John: There are many styles that I love, but in particular la Sonora Matancera. They’re a Cuban/Afro-Cuban group that started in the 1920s—they made Cuban music that permeated Latin America. They were incredible crooners and wrote beautiful love songs.

Tony: Salsa, ’cause of my mom. Tito Puente was my mother’s cousin.

John: No! Oh my God, you’re illustrious.

What would your mothers think of this show?

Tony: Well, our mothers get along famously. My mother loves everything I do because I’m doing it.

John: I’ve been a huge pain in my mom’s ass trying to get her to understand the culture she came from, to help her understand her indigenous roots. Every time she sees my pieces, she learns something about herself and the culture she came from, and it’s great ’cause then she influences her friends.

Which character in the show do you most identify with?

John: It’s gotta be Pepe; he’s the artist saying, “Look, we matter, we count.”

Tony: Yeah, it’s the guy who’s trying to be funny and popular, but he’s doing all the wrong things.

John: We don’t win at basketball, we don’t win at football, we don’t win all the fights, but hey, we’re funny and interesting.


The world premiere of Kiss My Aztec! is now playing through July 14 at Berkeley Rep. Tickets can be purchased online.


This interview, written by Artistic Associate and Assistant Dramaturg Katie Craddock, was originally published in the program for this show.

Meet Mystic Inscho, One of the Kids Rocking Paramount’s Stage in ‘School of Rock’

While the musical School of Rock centers on a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher, the showstoppers come from the crowd of child actors playing the students.  A performer since age 4, the now nine-year-old Mystic Inscho plays the role of Zack in the tour of School of Rock.

This triple threat performer loves being able to shred on stage, dance and sing in musical theatre’s first-ever kids rock band that plays live on stage.  But he also enjoys visiting zoos and aquariums across the United States and Canada, as well as being a star. Inscho will be stopping in Seattle in May as part of Broadway at The Paramount’s series.  So, we caught up with Inscho and talked about what he liked best about the show and how he keeps up with real school while on tour.

Mystic Inscho
Performer Mystic Inscho.

Rosemary Jones: Why did you want to be in School Of Rock?

Mystic Inscho: School Of Rock is so cool! Also, it is the only musical which requires kids to have serious music instrument skills.  The show has inspired me to practice my instruments. And I have been training in dancing, singing and acting since I was five.  I was so fortunate to get this chance.

Singing, playing an instrument, dancing or acting—what’s the hardest part of your job?

All of these things are performing and I love to perform.  But the hardest thing is to do the show over and over with little time for other things.  I love drums and piano but don’t have much time to play them. We perform eight shows a week over six days and then travel on the seventh day.  We try to be energetic and make every performance the best.

You’re playing a kid going to school but how do you keep up with your lessons in real life?

We are required to have 15 hours of school a week.  I have online courses for fifth grade and there are three tutors with us.  Also just visiting all of these cities is a great learning opportunity.

School of Rock Tour
‘School of Rock’ tour. Evan Zimmerman/Murphy Made Photography

What’s your favorite moment in in School Of Rock?

That would be when I play my guitar solo and rock out on the stage in “Teacher’s Pet” (one of the last songs). That’s when my dancing and guitar solo come together and the audience responds to me.         

If you were a rock star, what position would you want to play in the band?

Definitely the lead guitarist and singer.

Your Instagram account shows a lot of traveling for this show. What’s been your favorite stop so far?

I loved Ottawa and Washington DC.  But every city has had great experiences.  The American and Canadian capitals are especially fun for visitors.  And the people have been so kind to us.

'School of Rock' tour.
‘School of Rock’ tour. Evan Zimmerman/Murphy Made Photography

Anything special that you want to do while you’re in Seattle?

Our family has friends in Seattle and I will get to meet them. The Space Needle seems very cool to visit. Also, I like zoos and aquariums.  I have been visiting different zoos and aquariums along the way.

What musical would you like to do next?

Billy Elliot would be a great musical to do. I auditioned for it in a local theatre.  But I was too young to be considered. I would love doing the singing and dancing.


Tickets are available online for School of Rock, playing May 14 to 19 at The Paramount Theatre.


Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, Examiner.com and others. Additional work can be seen at rosemaryjones.com.

San Francisco Ballet Orchestra Cheers on the Dancers and the Musicians

San Francisco Ballet’s 2019 season closer, Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy, is one of the heavyweights of modern ballet. As gorgeous as the dancing is, there’s multiple thrills to be found aurally as the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra performs Symphony #9 based on opus 70 from 1945; the Chamber Symphony set to an orchestration of the composer’s String Quartet No. 8 from 1960; and Piano Concerto #1 based on the neo-baroque Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra from 1933. Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West will be discussing the history behind Ratmansky’s selections during a May 12 “Meet the Artist” event but here’s a little preview of what the musicians bring to the performances.


Rosemary Jones:  Shostakovich’s compositions are not necessarily what we think of as “ballet music.” What do you do in the orchestra to bring to life the composer’s music and the choreographer’s vision?

Martin West: There are challenges to taking a symphonic work and layering on ballet but luckily Alexei is an incredibly musical choreographer. Sometimes people think that conducting for ballet would be constricting or an extra burden on the conductor, but in Alexei’s case you can be free. It’s wonderful to play the pieces as you want. It’s a very satisfying evening musically.

Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West. Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet
Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West. Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet

You’ll be addressing some of this in your talk on May 12 but how do these works mark different eras in Shostakovich’s life and how does Ratmansky’s choreography reflect that?

The ninth symphony is big and quite extroverted. It came right after the end of the war and [Shostakovich] chose to do something quite humorous. The 28-minute piece is almost a joke. It was an interesting piece for him to do and caused him to be censored for a second time. In the ballet, the set has these Soviet symbols high above the dancers. Alexei’s work is always full of clever references and he does his own humorous take on the music. I really enjoy watching that one.

Chamber Symphony is an earlier work expanded into a full string orchestra and it is a massive work. Alexei took this and created a ballet dealing with Shostakovich’s relationships with women. Quite a stroke of genius, creating a remarkable ballet for a remarkable piece of music.

On May 12, I’ll talk about all three pieces, concentrating on [each] tie to Shostakovich’s life and what to listen for, the material hidden within the music. We are lucky in San Francisco to have an audience that appreciates the orchestra and wants to understand and appreciate the music.

Do you think it makes a difference to the dancers to have the live music?

Yes!  We have 60 to 70 people in the pit willing the dancers to look good. They are playing to propel them to higher and higher levels. That’s something that you can’t achieve with recorded music.  You can’t get that visceral feeling from a pair of speakers. What we try to achieve for the dancers is to enhance that symbiotic relationship. If you dance to recorded music, you know what to expect. You know exactly how high you can leap and still come down on a specific note. But when you dance to live music, you can leap higher, you can take risks. If a dancer just wants to take a little more time on a turn, or do more on the acting side, [in the orchestra] we can react to it and add to it.

San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky's Shostakovich Trilogy. Photo by Erik Tomasson
San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy. Photo by Erik Tomasson

What’s a typical rehearsal schedule like for the orchestra and for you?

[At the beginning of May] I will be going into the studio with dancers to refresh my memory of the choreography. I will start discussing the pieces with the dancers so I know the parameters when I start rehearsing the orchestra. Ballet music sometimes is criticized for changing too much for the choreography but if you set it off on the right track, you can make it so it sounds like it was always going to go that way. Typically we’ll do six to nine hours, sometimes 12, of practice. We get one stage and tech run and then one dress rehearsal, and then we are playing for performances. We’re quite lucky that we get that much rehearsal here. Some dance orchestras don’t get that tech run.  Everyone in the orchestra is a professional and they come to rehearsals knowing what they need to do.

The end of this season marks a couple of big retirements for the orchestra?

Oh yes. My timpani player is retiring after only 30 years [James Gott, principal timpani, joined in 1989]. And the last founding member of the orchestra is retiring. When Steve [Steven D’Amico, principal double bass] leaves, he will have done 45 years of service for the company. He’s been a wonderful advocate for the players. I contribute a lot of the goodwill in how management and musicians get along to Steve’s calm and wise words over the years.

So, do you have any orchestra traditions to mark the end of a season?

I expect this year’s potluck will be bigger [due to the retirements]. Also, whenever we finish a run, as soon as the audience starts to clap, we do a cheer for the orchestra.


San Francisco Ballet’s production of Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy can be seen at War Memorial Opera House May 7 through 12.

For those who want a little more of San Francisco Ballet Orchestra’s long serving musicians, D’Amico can be heard on the Orchestra’s Grammy Award-winning album Ask Your Mama and will be doing a Meet the Artist talk on May 10. Both D’Amico and Gott have performed on many of the orchestra’s other 18 albums and four DVDs.


Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, Examiner.com and others. Additional work can be seen at rosemaryjones.com.

David Hsieh on Bringing ‘Kim’s Convenience’ to the American West Coast Stage

One of Seattle’s most prolific directors and actors, David Hsieh is well known for bring diverse work to the stage as the founding artistic director of ReAct. His many credits also include performances in Book-It’s productions of The Brothers K and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, as well as in The Happy Ones and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at Seattle Public. Co-directing Kim’s Convenience with Taproot Theatre’s founding artistic director Scott Nolte, Hsieh is realizing a long-held ambition in bringing Ins Choi’s warm-hearted comedy about a Korean family and their friends to local audiences.


Rosemary Jones: Kimbits, as fans of the series Kim’s Convenience are known, largely come from watching the Canadian television sitcom starting in 2016 or streaming on Netflix since 2018. Did you first encounter Ins Choi’s Kim’s Convenience as the stage play or online?

David Hsieh: When the published version of the script was first printed in 2012, a copy of it landed on my desk. (I was the drama book buyer at a local bookstore at the time.) I knew nothing about it but being a play with Asian themes. I added it to my huge ever-shifting pile of plays to read. I didn’t actually get to it until a few years later after hearing Ins Choi being interviewed on the radio one night. He was talking about the play and its great success at the Toronto Fringe and subsequent Soulpepper tour as well as the new series in the works. I dug my copy out the pile and read it, and immediately fell in love with the script. I don’t have Netflix or anything but when Scott first asked me to help with the production, I binge-watched [the series] on YouTube and am now a huge fan of that as well.

Who is your favorite character in the Kim family?

I’m not one who likes to pick favorites. I actually like them all…and that’s what I find intriguing about the play and how it’s written. I think everyone can relate to each of the four family members in different ways, as well as the variety of other characters that visit the store. Growing up second generation in an immigrant Asian family, I can definitely relate to both [the Kim’s adult children] Jung and Janet’s characters and what they are going through in the play. But the parents of course are also so wonderfully written, in particular the part of [the father] Appa, who is such a fun role and an amusing take for the audience. On a personal level, I don’t have a strong relationship with my own father, so the storyline between Appa and Jung is particularly affecting for me.

What are the differences you see between the Canadian series and the original play?

Director and actor David Hsieh. Photo by John Ulman
Director and actor David Hsieh. Photo by John Ulman

Well the TV series was inspired by the play, but there are differences. While the family and basic plot is similar, and there are some scenes and sections of dialogue from the play peppered into various episodes of the series, particularly the first season, there are many differences. For instance, in the play, Jung left 16 years ago and in the series it’s only been about nine years, so the characters are all younger and at a different point in their lives. As each season has unfolded the series has expanded and grown and diverged more and more. There are some things in the play that are quite different, and probably can’t happen in the timeline of the series any more, almost becoming an alternate reality. I think TV audiences will be intrigued to see the play and these differences and what inspired the TV show.

When did you hear about the Taproot Theatre production?

Scott Nolte notified me over a year ago that they were hoping to get the rights to do this American West Coast premiere and asked if I’d be interested in working on the project. I immediately and enthusiastically said yes and a few months later, the rights were confirmed.

How does co-directing work with Scott Nolte?

I think it works really well. This is my first chance to work at Taproot, a theatre that I’ve admired for decades. Scott and I have known each other for many years. We have the same sensibilities and appreciation of theatre as well as the same take on Kim’s Convenience. He obviously knows the space really well, and of course I have a unique perspective for this play and we make a good team.

As co-director, what’s your biggest challenge in preparing for opening night?

Well, as with any production I’ve helped direct, our biggest challenge is to create and present the best production of the play as we possibly can. We have an amazing cast. I think Seattle audiences are really going to enjoy this production. You know it’s going to be a good show when you’re still laughing and being moved to tears by the play deep into the rehearsal process, another testament to the brilliant script created by Ins. Our greatest joy will be to see Seattle audiences enjoying this timely and universal story of family love. It’s been so well received at every place it has been produced. I hope this show will be one of Taproot’s biggest successes.


Taproot Theatre’s production of Kim Convenience runs May 15 through June 22.

After Kim’s Convenience opens, Hsieh will be directing the West Coast premiere of Salty by AJ Clauss, a play about penguins and zookeepers, for ReAct Theatre at 12th Ave Arts.


Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, Examiner.com and others. Additional work can be seen at rosemaryjones.com.

Taking Risks and Minimizing Failure—Part Two

This is part two of two of Johanna Pfaelzer and Lisa Steindler in conversation, in which they continue their discussion of intergenerational leadership in theatre and supporting artists in the Bay Area.

Johanna Pfaelzer is the incoming artistic director at Berkeley Rep Theatre and Lisa Steindler is the executive artistic director of Z Space.


Lisa Steindler: Hopefully we’ll have young leaders running mid-size organizations sooner rather than later and, in ten years, they will be running the regional theatres with so much more expertise under their belts. With so many people leaving the field after many years in leadership roles, I’m not sure we have adequately developed or created opportunities for the next generation to take up the reigns.

Johanna Pfaelzer: I think for women, especially, figuring out how to balance parenthood and these jobs is a real issue that we must pay attention to. How can we retain women as leaders and create the flexibility in our structures that will enable them to stay within these organizations? I was really lucky to be working for a working mother—Carey Perloff—when I became a parent.

Steindler: One hundred percent agree. I feel most excited about that right now, in this moment in my career, to foster and mentor three incredible millennial women who are all way smarter than me. They have a lot more knowledge about the world of twenty-year-olds and the technology that goes along with that, and I believe that is crucial to the relevance of an organization. That merged with the historical knowledge of the organization and the field that I bring to the table, we have a pretty robust cauldron.

Pfaelzer: I also think different generations of theatremakers are thinking about what theatre can do as an art form in really different ways. I don’t think it’s solely generational but I do think there’s a reason that, when we look at the twenty-year-olds and the thirty-year-olds in our field, they’re thinking about collaboration, about the process of how and why and you make work together, in a much broader way. They’re going to demand that of the institutions, and the structures are going to have to adapt to their vision, and they should.

Steindler: Absolutely, they should. Here at Z Space we’re all about failure in a good way, being able to take artistic and organizational risks without fear of failure. Taking on a leadership role involves a steep learning curve and the navigation of multiple relationships, during which myriad risks are encountered where one might potentially fail. But if we’re intentional about creating this new leadership model, supporting young leaders, and building from within the Z Space family to engage and invest in new and diverse leadership, we can quite possibly achieve much greater milestones while taking risks and minimizing failure.

Pfaelzer: Indeed! And that question of failure, not like I’m obsessed with it right now as I’m in the middle of season planning or anything, but the model of New York Stage and Film is based on the idea that you get to take huge risks. And that we as an organization can turn to a body of artists in any given year and say: “Go big. We’ve got you and we can keep the stakes low.”

One of the challenges for me, going into an institution with Berkeley Rep’s scale, is to make sure that some piece of me can keep that notion alive. For myself, for the artists in the building, and to bring an audience into that as well, to help them understand that the task of an artist isn’t to give them polished perfection. Because theatre is this ephemeral, living, breathing thing, how do we let that notion of transformation and risk and change and attempt and failure be part of the process, delight, and specificity of how the show is then experienced?

…failure can become a very nourishing aspect of the creation of great work. If we’re afraid of failing, we will get a certain type of work that can be calcifying…

Lisa Steindler

Steindler: Once you put it into a context of process, people are super excited about that. They’re generous. And failure can become a very nourishing aspect of the creation of great work. If we’re afraid of failing, we will get a certain type of work that can be calcifying, potentially. That frightens me. You and I have both dedicated our lives to new work and to creating space where these things can be explored and then actually happen.

We’ve been looking at a strategic plan and one of the classic questions that came out of it was: “Who are we serving?” And my answer was very different than the answer of these younger women leaders I am working with at Z Space now. My answer was: “We’re serving the artists.” And their answer was :“We’re serving the audience.”

Pfaelzer: The younger people working in your organization said serving the audience?

Steindler: Yeah.

Pfaelzer: Wow, that surprises me.

Steindler: It surprised me too, it’s fascinating. But they’re really clear about, “If we don’t have a fully inclusive audience, we don’t have an institution.” And I said, “If we don’t have artists creating excellent work, what are we serving the audience?” It is chicken and egg, but it exemplifies one of the many benefits of distributed and intergenerational leadership.

Performance of American $uicide at Z Space
Performance of American $uicide at Z Space. Photo by Clayton Lord

Pfaelzer: One thing you mentioned, which I thought was really interesting in these moments of transitions, was about new work, because it can take a company so long to partner with an artist to make something new. From first conversation through commission through early drafts through development, to realization in whatever form that is… When a transition happens at some midpoint along that trajectory, what happens to the piece? What happens to the institution? What is it for an artist who has a deep relationship with the artistic leader who first made that commitment to them and a real, honest expectation of realization within that structure? What is it for the incoming person to say: “Oh, great, here’s a bunch of stuff I get to fall in love with” or “The pipeline has been primed for me in fantastic ways.”

That’s not an entirely hypothetical thing, given where I sit right now, because the Berkeley Rep team has been so extraordinarily generous in saying: “Let it be a clean slate for you.” And, on the other hand, there are decades of relationships with artists that Tony Taccone, the outgoing artistic director, has established that I want to make sure I’m aware of and honoring in appropriate ways, and, frankly, can avail myself of.

Steindler: I think it’s tremendous that Berkeley Rep has handed you a clean slate. It’s a little scary to have that responsibility in a relatively new community for you, in which all those relationships already exist. But the blend is potentially so rich. And because you’ve been doing this for quite a long time, especially with new work in New York, and now again on the West Coast, you’ve got really established relationships with a vast roster of great artists. I imagine there’s a lot of crossover from those relationships. But the question is what do you inherit and what do you blend in of your own to open those doors wider to achieve your aesthetic.

I’ve always thought about creating pipelines and working in concert with other organizations here. So if an artist begins working at Berkeley Rep, moves to a project at the Magic, comes to Z Space, and then goes on to A.C.T., we’re really working in concert with one another, and together we make it possible for these artists to actually make a meager living. And hopefully we are creating a pool of artists who will stay and see a viable career here in the Bay Area.

Pfaelzer: That also provides the opportunity to marry an idea or a particular piece to the organization that would best serve it at a particular place in its lifespan.

Steindler: That’s true.

Pfaelzer: I think of the vibrancy of what Campo Santo does in a space that is inherently smaller than at the Geary Theater, which is part of A.C.T., for instance. If we can all be thinking a bit more collectively, one of the things to consider is what stories demand to be told in which mode? What is it to sit outside at California Shakespeare Theater and experience the story in that environment?

…I do think that there is a way that we as organizations can be better, do better, at creating those opportunities and being thoughtful about how we build and sustain a larger, more diverse pool of artists creating great new work.

Lisa Steindler

Steindler: When Mark Rucker first got to A.C.T. as associate artistic director, I remember he was very interested in how we keep the Bay Area artists here, how we create an environment they will invest in, so they stay here and don’t go to LA or New York? An idea he had that I loved, but we never got to bring to fruition, was to sit down as six, seven, eight organizations and say, “Let us create a season for these actors. Let’s look at these fifteen actors and make sure that six or eight of us can find roles for them.” It’s a challenging idea, but it’s something we could revisit. Because there really is an issue here.

The pool of artists has shrunk over the last decade plus, and it’s not being replenished to the degree it should be. I think it’s largely due to the cost of living. And I do think that there is a way that we as organizations can be better, do better, at creating those opportunities and being thoughtful about how we build and sustain a larger, more diverse pool of artists creating great new work. Which in turn will serve our audiences… Back to the interests of my younger colleagues.

I can’t wait for you to be here, to play with you and support you in any way I possibly can.

Pfaelzer: That makes me so happy and so reassured. The only thing that’s making this transition not entirely terrifying is that I feel like I am walking back into a place I know and love, one where I have such admiration for the people who are there, doing the work.


This piece, “Taking Risks and Minimizing Failure” by Johanna Pfaelzer and Lisa Steindler, was originally published on HowlRound Theatre Commons, on December 23, 2018 and has been lightly edited.