Skip to main content

The Moon Dance Theatre Festival launches into its second year

June 06, 2002

WHAT: The Herberger College's Department of Theatre at ASU announces the second annual Moon Dance Theatre Festival, a celebration of fringe theatre that dares to dance in the darkness of the human soul while still embracing a light of hope.

The festival's 60-plus cast and crew, twice as many as last year, are all students or alumni of the Herberger College Department of Theatre. The week-long event features five full-length plays, two staged readings and one original comedy show. Before every show and between performances there will be talent acts, vignettes and musical performances. Admission to all performances is free.

ASU Theatre student AJ Morales conceived the idea for Moon Dance last summer and is reprising his 'role' as the festival's organizer. The idea came from his desire to produce fringe theatre that explores themes of hope and light in addition to this type of theatre's typical "dark side."

"Since last year's Moon Dance, the theme of hope amidst darkness really took on some new meaning," Morales says. "When planning the festival this year with several of the returning artists, it became clear that we would have to be even more unflinching and diversified in how we deal with the darker side of human nature in our plays. We've expanded our vision to embrace both local and world views"

The line-up this year in more varied than last, boasting names such as Neil Labute, who has written such movies as In the Company of Men, and Your Friends and Neighbors, Jean Genet, French existentialist and contemporary to Jean-Paul Sartre, and Matei Visniec, the most widely performed playwright in Romania. The subject matter 

has also undergone a change in tone; though still dealing with much with lighthearted comedy, the festival also tackles such difficult issues as war, rape, abortion and violence against homosexuals.

"There's a lot of darkness in the world," says Morales, "which makes it all the more important to be shining light on it."

WHEN: June 24-29, 2002.

WHERE: The Prism Theatre, 851 E. Tyler St., in the Ritter Building on the ASU campus in Tempe (northwest corner of Terrace and Rural, just south of University Drive).


CALL: For additional information, the public may call 480-727-7877.

Monday. June 24

7 p.m.
Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls
Written by Naomi Iizuka, directed by Julie Thwaites (ASU alumnus).

A dark comedy that journeys from the urban jungle of New York to the exotic locales of Hawaii, Alaska, Inner Borneo and all points past. A handful of young adults, driven crazy by their own ever-complicated unhappiness, turn outward to face what it means to travel from one's self. Through dealings with komodo dragons, hula girls, bloodthirsty dogs and a whole lot of poi, these waylaid wanderers try to figure out exactly what it means to utter the phrase, "Aloha." 

9:15 p.m.
An evening of two one act plays:
The Body of a Woman (as a battlefield in the Bosnian War)
Written by Matei Visniec, directed by Ivana Adzic (ASU student)

An American psychologist is caring for a Bosnian rape victim shortly after the war has officially ended. But who needs who's help to survive the emotional trauma caused by the war. The most widely performed playwright in Romania takes an unblinking look at the stereotypes and prejudices that caused the conflict and the aftermath left in it's wake, all through a lens seldom seen when dealing with war: the body of a woman. 

Brave Hearts
Written by Harry Rintoul, Directed by Justin Dero

Two strangers on a backyard porch discover that they were never strangers in the first place. Delving through the memories of an alcoholic past, one man discovers that the one thing that truly saved him was buried under years of discomfort and self-hate. Both a memory play and a uplifting tale of redemption, the play examines what it truly means to belong.

Tuesday, June 25

7 p.m.
Bash: The Latterday Plays
Written by Neil Labute, Directed by Ron May and Anthony Runfola (Stray Cat Theater)

A collection of three stunning one-act plays that mark LaBute's return to the New York stage after 10 years - forms a trio of unforgettable personal accounts: in Medea Redux, a woman tells of her complex and ultimately tragic relationship with her grade school English teacher; in Iphigenia in Orem, a Utah businessman confides in a stranger in a Las Vegas hotel room, confessing a most chilling crime; and in A Gaggle of Saints, a young Mormon couple separately recounts the violent events of an anniversary weekend in New York City. All three are unblinking portraits of the complexities of evil in everyday life, exhibiting LaBute's signature raw lyrical intensity.

9:15 p.m.
Story Within

A staged reading written by Jonothon Howard and Tuey Burns (ASU students), directed by Eric Piatkowski

Something isn't right- A connection isn't being made, a flight is being missed and a sofa is nowhere to be found. Can anyone make sense of how the random frustrations of everyday life mount an endless assault against us? Six lost souls venture out into a surreal world of the commonplace to find out if there really is a coherent story within.

Wednesday, June 26

1:30 p.m.
A staged reading written by AJ Morales (ASU student), directed by Laura Dougherty (ASU student)

Two plays come together as one as five men in Sapporo, Japan and five women in Austin, Texas, suffer a crisis of morality and of life at the same late night moment. In the first, an international student grapples with the ghosts of his past on a abandoned subway platform, while in the other a young Kinko's employee struggles to keep her spiritual balance when asked to do a print job that hits too close to home. Both take a long hard look at how ideals of the east and west are not always as different as they seem.

7 p.m.
Written by Jean Genet, directed by Joseph Benesh (ASU Student)

In the same brand of violent existentialism that landed this Sartre contemporary in jail himself in over thirty instances, this is the tale of three death row inmates, made anxious by the prospect of freedom and driven mad by the prospect of despair. Status is everything and alliances change at the blink of an eye, but can anyone really survive when the future only promises death; or worse yet- obscurity.

9:15 p.m.
Farce Side Comedy Hour: European Tour
Valley comedy group Farce Side / Barren Mind mixes the relevant with the absurd in this hour and half sketch and improvisation extravaganza. They may not know which side of the ocean they're on, but they're still taking comedy to international proportions.

Thursday, June 27
1:30 p.m. - Deathwatch 
7 p.m. - Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls
9:15 p.m. - Bash: The Latterday Plays

Friday, June 28
1:30 p.m.- Brave Hearts & Body of a Woman
7 p.m. - Farce Side: European Tour
9:15 p.m. - Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls
*Special Midnight Performance* - Deathwatch

Saturday, June 29
1:30 p.m. - Hand/Line
3:30 p.m. - Brave Hearts & Body of a Woman
5:45 p.m. - Story Within
7 p.m. - Moon Dance New Plays Project

In this project, five playwrights will be given nothing but a theme and a week in which to write and stage a 10-minute play based on it. The catch is that each artist is either acting or directing in every one of the other four artists' plays. An audience favorite last year; by and far a unique theatre experience.

9:15 p.m. - Bash: The Latterday Plays

Media Contact:
Megan Krause