“LIGHTS OFF, EYES CLOSED”
by Liz Shannon Miller
March 24 – April 29
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Jane never understood her mother, or the best-selling romance novels she wrote. But after her mother’s sudden death, Jane finds herself in charge of finishing her mom’s last book. With a little help from the novel’s overly-passionate characters, and her mother’s inescapable ghost, Jane must find a way to honor her mother’s dying wish to bring romance into her life.
LIGHTS OFF, EYES CLOSED was written by SkyPilot resident playwright Liz Shannon Miller, who currently works as a writer on G4′s ATTACK OF THE SHOW. She has a BFA in screenwriting from USC, and since graduating has written dialogue for the U.S. Army, covered the online video world for the tech site GigaOM, and been published by the New York Times, Variety, Nerve and Thought Catalog. Produced theater works include SOMETHING BIBLICAL (Sight Unseen Theatre), IDEATION (3 of a Kind Theatre), NEGOTIATIONS (Black Box Theatre), JUDGEMENT and SAVE A HORSE (SkyPilot Theatre). Based in Los Angeles and a STAR TREK fan since birth, Liz found inspiration for LIGHTS OFF in her own mother’s career as a romance novelist.
Directed by Meredith Berg, who earned her BFA at NYU Tisch in acting and directing. While in NYC, she directed several productions, including “Caesar” Off-Broadway, an update of the Shakespearean play for the York Shakespeare Company. She currently works in Los Angeles as a writer, director and comic-book editor. Her award-winning short film “Void” will soon be available on DVD from Amazon and iTunes.
Starring Mary Burkin, Samatha Carro, JR Esposito, Chera Holland, Joanna Kalafatis, and Jason Kobielus
LIGHTS OFF, EYES CLOSED is the second production in SkyPilot’s 2012 season, our second full year of exclusively producing world premiere plays. Last year’s critically acclaimed plays include THE EMANCIPATION OF ALABASTER MCGILL by Jeff Goode, the sold-out TO THE NEW GIRL by Samantha Macher, and 4 MURDERS by Brett Neveu. All three plays received rave reviews from the Los Angeles press.
SkyPilot Theatre Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering new relationships with provocative playwrights to develop the most compelling, challenging and humorous new plays for the Los Angeles theatre going audience.
March 24 thru April 29, 2012
10943 Camarillo St.
North Hollywood, CA 91602
Lights Off, Eyes Closed at T.U. Studios
by Brian Sonia-Wallace
Let me be blunt: I liked this play. You should go see this play. It is very good.
I didn’t think I would like it. I admit that from the advertising I was prepared to spend two hours grinding my teeth—and it is a play with purple posters about romance novels, mother-daughter relationships, and love in the modern world. The potential for mush is there, but the play acknowledges it, plays with and against it, and then soars above it. Light’s Off, Eyes Closed is an uproarious comedy that has no problem subverting everything it’s about in one moment, only to have you realize in the next that through the act of subversion it has reaffirmed and transcended each of its themes. By playing with the absurdity of romance as a fantasy genre it shows how very essential fantasy, and maybe even romance, are to deal with the absurdity of life.
Watch out for Sky Pilot Theatre resident playwright Liz Shannon Miller. Her writing is beautifully paced, building a thoroughly believable world in the first act and raising the stakes at a mile a minute in the second act. She keeps the play’s scope small but fleshes out the world so completely that two hours go by in a snap. This is what theater should be—modern, relevant, local, and above all, fun. Hollywood could learn a thing or two about both the heart and the brain of a story from Ms. Miller.
The play’s conceit is simple: when a mother (hilarious yet elegantly dry Mary Burkin) dies, she leaves her only daughter, Jane (a superbly nuanced Joanna Kalafatis), with the task of finishing her final romance novel. Jane is skeptical of the genre (she prefers Star Trek), disillusioned with life, and thoroughly inexperienced with love. Her pep-tastic roommate (Samantha Carro) and her studlier-than-thou high school crush (Jason Kobielus) are canoodling, and her mother’s agent (Chera Holland) is breathing down her neck. On top of that, she doesn’t know how she feels about her new maybe-boyfriend (JR Esposito), and all the while her mother’s ghost is heckling and advising from the side-lines.
The play begins as the mother starts to write her novel and ends the second the daughter finishes it. But a simple plot summary does no justice to the hilarity or touches of deep thought present in every scene. From the opening announcements that read as a romance novel (‘they held hands in the dark…they muted their cell phones…’) to the final note (No spoilers, but I think the cast would agree it ends pretty ‘happily muthaf*cking after’) Light’s Off, Eyes Closed comes at you a laugh-a-minute and leaves each scene with cliffhangers that keep you wanting more.
The stage is effectively divided into a raised level juxtaposed with a lower stage. The raised level is where we see the fantasy scenes of the mother’s ghost and the romance’s characters (Carro and Kobielus again, delightfully playing off their range and *ahem* passion). On the lower stage, the complications of real life make things, well, complicated. As the play goes on, the audience sees Jane’s journey from resisting the fantasy world to embracing it as a playground to figure things out in her own life. She is cynical enough for the most skeptical audience member to relate to, and her change of heart isn’t about loving romance, it’s about needing a narrative to connect this big shapeless thing called life. The need for this fantasy world, explored in a touching mother-daughter scene, is the real heart of this play. It doesn’t matter what fantasy we indulge in, it seems to say, so long as we have something that lets us escape from the real world and find meaning in it at the same time.
Director Meredith Berg is to be commended for keeping the action tight and making sure the actors hit every note spot-on. She does a lot with a minimalistic set and lighting, which give the play a slightly unpolished and ‘small theater’ feel that only makes the quality of the script and acting more outstanding. My only criticism was that the audience was often left sitting in the dark for what seemed like ages during scene changes—hopefully this will get cleaner as the production goes on.
It’s rare to find a play with the irreverent humor, nuanced characters, wicked pacing, and deep heart of Lights Off, Eyes Closed. Thank you, Sky Pilot Theatre.
Lights Off, Eyes Closed is performed Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 7:00 pm, and runs through April 29th, 2012.
T.U. Studios is located at 10943 Camarillo St. North Hollywood CA 91602
Ticket prices: $20.00 general admission, group rates available for 10 or more.
Reservations online at www.SKYPILOTTHEATRE.com or by phone at (800) 838-3006