After Orlando theatre production

International theater project 'After Orlando' sheds light on national gun-violence debate


Sarah A. McCarty

When 49 people were killed this past summer at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, the theater world took action. OBIE (or Off-Broadway Theater Awards) award winner Caridad Svich created “After Orlando: An International Theatre Action” to explore the tragedy and issues surrounding it through art.

“After Orlando” is a collaboration featuring the work of more than 70 playwrights from around the world, and it has been produced and performed in more than 50 theaters and universities around the country. Now, this moving theater experience is set for Phoenix stages in January.

The Phoenix edition of this international project will be under the direction and artistic guidance of Robert Harper, associate artistic director for Phoenix Theatre, and Micha Espinosa, associate professor of voice and acting in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“As an institute of higher education, ASU is committed to forging strong community ties that enhance our ability to understand, question or investigate a person’s sorrow, anger or hopes in response to current events, in this case the Orlando tragedy,” Espinosa said.

The one-day theater event intends to provide a space where controversial topics, like gun control, can be facilitated through theater.

“‘After Orlando’ directly aligns with our mission, which aims to create an exceptional theatrical experience by using the arts to articulate messages that inspire hope and understanding,” Harper said.

The project will include the participation of more than 30 local artists and a keynote speech from State Rep.-Elect Daniel Hernandez, who gained national recognition for helping save the life of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011.

“It is especially exciting to work with a professional theater company like Phoenix Theatre and many local artists I have come to respect over the years,” Espinosa said.

"After Orlando" is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, in the Hormel Theatre at Phoenix Theatre.