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The Power of After Orlando

by Nicholas Pilapil

I already had too much on my plate: my 9-to-5 “adult” job, the theatre projects I’m already producing with my own theatre company Artists at Play, and my own play that will be going into production soon. But when Snehal Desai asked me to produce After Orlando: an international theatre action for East West Players as part of their Politics in Play reading series, I knew this project was important, that it would unite a community towards healing.

I’m happy I said yes.

The timeline for this project was seven days. Seven days to find directors, to cast, to rehearse—to basically put it all together and pull everything off. Though it felt like we had no time at all, everything quickly fell into place.

I was worried no one would want to take part in After Orlando because of the short notice and the lack of glamour that comes with a staged reading, but I realized that theatre people are compassionate and generous people. I didn’t have to convince anyone to take part. Everyone wanted to do it because they knew that this project was important.

Through theatre and storytelling, we honored the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and helped them live on—and we created a safe space for others to do the same. And, people came! There were more people than I expected. What made it even greater was that the audience was also engaged and participated—everyone stayed for the talkback.

The biggest thing for me was the diversity in After Orlando. There was such great diversity from the writers, the genre of plays, to the representations of all kinds of people we saw onstage. It really illuminated the message of coming together. It also allowed every person a way in. From dramatic monologues, musical pieces to hilarious laugh-out-loud comedies, there were so many different pieces to connect to.

As a producer, I see theatre as a business. A lot of the time, all I care about is the money I’m making or losing. I’m so grateful for this experience because it reminded me of the real reason I love theatre in the first place: it’s the power of the art, community, the stories we tell, and how they bring people together to change the world.

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Cast of “After Orlando: an international theatre action” at East West Players (October 17, 2016).

BIO
Nicholas Pilapil is a theatre producer and writer. As a producer, he most recently produced the world premiere of The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up by Carla Ching with Los Angeles theatre collective Artists at Play. As a writer, he most recently wrote songs for the film BASTARD and Trust, the debut album by Michael Barnum. His play Meow, Meow, Hiss will be featured in Becky and Baldwin’s Other Plays, on November 5, 2016 at Collective Arts Incubator. Read more at nicholaspilapil.com.

ABOUT AFTER ORLANDO
After Orlando (October 17, 2016, 7:00 p.m., David Henry Hwang Theater) was presented in partnership with Missing Bolts Productions (Blair Baker and Zac Kline, Artistic Directors), NoPassport Theatre Alliance and Press (Caridad Svich, Founder), the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the UCLA LGBT Center as an international theatre action with playwrights throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Africa, and Australia responding to the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016. East West Players presented five-minute plays directed by Mara De La Rosa and Shen Heckel, and written by Mia Chung, Leah Nanako Winkler, Dipika Guha, Giovanni Ortega, Riti Sachdeva, Nathan Alan Davis, Caridad Svich, Rohina Malik, Chiori Miyagawa, Amina Henry, Andrea Lepcio, J. Julian Christopher, Brian Quijada, Monica Palacios, Oladipo Agboluaje, Michael Dinwiddie, Erik Ehn, Caridad Svich, and Lisa Schlesinger. The cast included Marc Assad, Mari Assad, Erica Lynn Castillo, Jesse Abbott Chin, Terence C. Daniel, Carmella Diaz-Lolar, Cale Honda, Espiridion Megana, Marla Lizbeth Perez, Shelley Regner, and Katherine Washington.

A post-show discussion was moderated by Raja Bhattar (Director, LGBT Campus Resource Center, UCLA) with panelists Karen Anzoategui (East Lost High), Milton Smith (Project Director, Connect to Protect Los Angeles), and Darryl Stephens (Noah’s Arc).