Local theater aims to challenge gender norms

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Sarah Covey | The Daily Wildcat

Daz (Lucas Giacalone), left, and Lauren (Callie Hutchison), right, perform a scene in "Scarborough" at Temple of Music and Art Cabaret Theater on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Something Something Theatre is a small, non-profit theater with a large mission: To change the traditionally male-dominated theatrical sphere.

“I’ve read around 245 plays by women and there’s so many to choose from,” said Joan O’Dwyer, Something Something’s founding artistic director. “We’ll still do plays by men, because many classics are written by them, but now there’s a lot of options.”

O’Dwyer was awarded her Masters of Philosophy in creative writing from Trinity College, Dublin, in 2000 and originally owned the Wilde Playhouse before Something Something Theatre.

O’Dwyer and her co-founders, Esther Almazán and Whitney Morton Woodcock, founded Something Something Theatre in 2015 with a vision of breaking conventionality — offering well-known classics in fresh, re-created perspectives and presenting modern plays in canon. Their goal is to make a “better-than-parity” scene for women playwrights and offer better plays for their Tucson audiences.

“It’s not all women playwrights,” Woodcock said. “But we do try to make sure it’s at least half. Not a lot of theaters in the country do shows by women playwrights. Instead, they’ll do ‘this is our women season.’ ”

Woodcock has been working in theater for more than half her life and takes pleasure in content that makes people think. After most shows, the theatre hosts a discussion with the audience about the content where audience members can ask the cast or directors questions about any show aspect. 

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Something Something Theatre also offers casting that aren’t your run-of-the-mill cherry-picking from an actor pool. Woodcock said there are always new faces for each show and in auditions. 

Sarah Covey | The Daily Wildcat

Beth (Kyleigh Sacco), left, and Aiden (Boz Lomasney), right, perform a scene in "Scarborough" at Temple of Music and Art Cabaret Theater on Sunday, Sept. 10.

“Some companies will cast from the pool of actors that they have,” Woodcock said. “Or they will have auditions but half the parts are not available because they’ve given them to actors that they know already. We try not to pre-cast and have it open to everybody. We’ll hold auditions and have them try out a bunch of different parts.”

Most plays end up with actors the directors have not worked with before, and the cast ends up with thespians they haven’t performed with either. For most, experiences are positive. 

“Joan had seen me in another play and invited me to come audition,” said Callie Hutchinson, a seasoned actor who was in the theatere’s production of “Dov and Ali” last spring. “I really like the mission and the feminist thing that they’re doing here. It’s women playwrights, it’s run by women and this theater is filling a huge void in Tucson. There’s no other theater in town that’s showcasing playwrights.”

For Lucas Giacalone, a local high schooler at Tucson High Magnet School, performing at Something Something was a positive experience and a way to branch out in drama. 

“This is a first time for me for a lot of things,” said Giacalone, who plays Daz in “Scarborough,” a play about a teacher-student scandal. “This was the first time I have done a professional show, and I was intimidated to work for bigger theater companies. I heard about it through my theater teacher, and I’ve had a really good first experience with them. I really got to know my co-actors and Daz better than I would have in a larger theater company.”

For “Scarborough” stage manager Lorraine Koleski, a UA student, Something Something offers experience and plays to her interests.

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“Their mission — that’s the thing that immediately drew me in that I loved,” said Koleski, who saw that the theatre was looking for volunteers and replied initially to its Facebook post before being invited over. “It’s been a positive experience working with them. I did lights, sound, tell actors places and other things like that.”

Something Something Theatre also rotates directors, with the founders rotating during the season for each play. Almazán, who has a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts and a master’s degree in script writing, said Something Something offers her opportunities outside of traditional directing.

“This theater really gives you the freedom to do things the way you want to do them. I’m a weird director. I do my directing a bit backwards; I do blocking later,” Almazán said. “I let actors explore for a while, then I clean it up later. Usually directors do all of their blocking first. I feel like, this way, it’s more organic, and if the actors are good, their instincts are right, rather than me imposing what I think before I meet with all of them.”

For the rest of the season, Something Something Theatre will focus on elevating female authorship, with four out of five of its shows this season written by female playwrights.


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