Original play by Barry Kornhauser taps into universal themes
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
Bringing performance art to the stage is an achievement for any acting troupe, but creating a spectacle to live on and pave an avenue for annual revenue is how brands are born.
“We are definitely a community,” said Ricky Araiza of Teatro Bravo!
“I think it is an exciting opportunity for Teatro Bravo! to be at Stage 2 at the performance arts center, which we have now, but this is to become a standing project that could provide regular revenue in different spaces — and that is very exciting.”
The performance art piece “Balloonacy” is described as a “tender, laugh-out-loud comedy,” written by Barry Kornhauser, directed by Jose Casas and performed by Ricky Araiza, all under the Teatro Bravo! acting company.
Mr. Araiza is the actor offering the one-man show based on the original play by Barry Kornhauser.
“There is a real connection to being a child here,” he told the Arizona Digital Free Press. “It is really a show about loneliness, love and friendship. And I think that Barry Kornhauser’s original play provides these universal ideas of bringing in an inanimate object. The ability to bring in play and memory. This idea is that through the performance we can all find something we identify with. We are getting a snapshot of a human being who is amid loneliness.”
For Mr. Araiza, he hopes this jump into young adult theater will provide new opportunities at both Scottsdale Arts, and Teatro Bravo!
“What I love so much about this piece is nonverbal bringing in a universal appeal,” he said. “It is playful, and I can see this opening new doors to create more works that can play for younger audiences, but it also stands alone in a way for storytelling that can be great.”
The mission statement at Teatro Bravo offers insight to the dedication of accessible storytelling:
“We create and elevate unapologetically truthful and fearless Latinx artistry that reflects the complex portrait of our community. We provide brave, equitable, inclusive and accessible storytelling experiences that create brave spaces for artistic discovery and expression.”
The play, “Balloonacy,” plays from Friday, July 8, through Sunday, July 10, during matinee showtimes at Stage 2. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is at 7380 E. 2nd St.
A partnership at Scottsdale Arts
Maribeth Reeves, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts managing director, provides any local performing arts center can oftentimes run into a common problem in a competitive landscape.
“Performing arts centers have a challenge: sometimes they can feel like shopping malls for the arts,” she explained. “What I mean by that is that all the centers present the same artists that are touring, and you can go from city to city and see some of the same things.”
Bringing unique, local collaborations can be a significant change for both the theatre and audience, Ms. Reeves says.
“Working with local artists is one way a performing arts center can be different. At Scottsdale Arts, part of our mission is not just presenting touring artists, but also supporting the work of Arizona-based artists,” she said, offering that “Balloonacy” is the perfect model of collaboration and innovation.
“These types of projects take a lot more work but also allow our staff the opportunity to flex their own artistic muscle. Touring artists come in with complete work that we mount. A production like “Balloonacy” takes a lot more time, but the results are really something special.”
Ms. Reeves says Scottsdale Arts is serving as producer of the one-of-a-kind production.
“We served as producer of this show, so we supported the design work, secured many of the props, helped coordinate and contract staff, and worked in collaboration with Childsplay to provide rehearsal space for the work,” she said. “One of the exciting things about this work, also, is its potential to provide some ongoing income opportunities through Teatro Bravo as they tour it through schools.”
Ms. Reeves contends what separates “Balloonacy” from all other young-adult shows is the depth of work and nuances of Mr. Araiza’s performance.
“First, it is a fun and funny show, but it is also about loneliness. Good TYA shows, like this one, explore challenging topics because children can engage with those,” she said.
“Pieces like this help them find ways to cope with challenges. Generally, the production features a ‘curmudgeonly old man.’ In our production, Ricky and José made the choice to focus on the loneliness rather than age of the character. This character has lost his wife and is coping with that. This resonated with me personally considering the pandemic.”
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic themes of loss and loneliness have become a part of day-to-day life for many, Ms. Reeves explains.
“I personally know people who lost their spouses to COVID-19 and are dealing with that loss,” she said. “I cannot imagine that. Many have lost fathers and grandmothers and have faced moving forward without those who were bread winners or family leaders.”