Pandemic leads Mesa theater to offer online classes The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Pandemic leads Mesa theater to offer online classes

Pandemic leads Mesa theater to offer online classes
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TRIBUNE NEWS STAFF

Times are tough for live theater.

From the Great White Way to community nonprofits, theaters have been closed since the onset of the pandemic.

Among the victims is the Laughing Pig Theatre in Mesa, a nonprofit that bills itself as “a group of passionate, educated artists who believe in the creative and collaborative spirit of performance.”

With no end in sight for the virus-enforced closure, Laughing Pig Theatre Executive and Artistic Director Taylor Moschetti has come up with a plan to connect young and old thespians with the stage – virtually, of course.

She has designed a whole curriculum of 6-8 online classes “to provide a creative outlet for those who are unable to attend classes in person whether it be due to scheduling or the restrictions of our public health crisis.”

“Support for arts education in Arizona has always been threadbare but the pandemic only exacerbated that,” Moschetti said. “I wanted a program that allowed anyone, kids or adults, to improve themselves without risking their health.”

Moschetti also hopes the program will provide a bit of financial relief.

“We have been shut down since March, but we typically have four fully produced shows a year as well as one or two short play events written by local playwrights and a handful of staged readings,” she explained. “Our classes typically run all year long and we offer youth camps during most breaks.”

Laughing Pig Theatre was founded in 2017 and quickly integrated itself in the Valley’s underground theater scene.

It focuses on the production of new and ground-breaking work from playwrights like Rachel Lynett, Darcy Parker Bruce, and MJ Kaufman and boast that they are “proud to be an anti-racist, LGBTQIA+ friendly theatre for social change for artists of all ages and abilities.”

Moschetti, who is also a full-time drama teacher for BASIS Education, said she was inspired to create the program after speaking with other educators about how the arts programs at their schools had been affected.

She and her team then recruited teaching artists from across the state to put on specialized courses on movement, sketch writing, meditative painting, improvisation, acting with developmental disabilities and more.

Some instructors are working professionals in the Valley theatre scene while others were met through the Molly Blank Fund ASU Gammage Teaching Artist Program, which Moschetti and her husband and co-founder Tony Moschetti completed earlier this year.

The hour-long classes will be held over Zoom once a week and begin Oct. 25. Moschetti’s course catalog is at laughingpigtheatre.org. ′

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