By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“One of the most beautiful things about this story is, it’s universal, in so many different ways.”
That’s just one reason Johamy Morales, the West Seattleite directing the current play at ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery (WSB sponsor) in The Junction, recommends you go see it.
“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” by Finegan Kruckemeyer isn’t just something to be seen, but also experienced, Morales explains, saying the production is interactive, breaking the “fourth wall.” “This Girl” tells the tale of three sisters, “left in the forest by their woodcutter father,” who take three different paths in life, as the title suggests, and meet again 20 years later.
It’s an all-ages play, Morales says, and “everyone in the audience can see a piece of themselves in a moment or two throughout the show … especially right now resonating … about so much need for creativity and imagination as we grapple with difficult things in our personal lives.”
She intends for this playgoing experience to “bring some joy, hope, curiosity, and an invitation to play.” She hopes it’s opening “a conversation with young people and adults about important stages of growth and development.”
Morales works at Seattle Children’s Theatre as director of education and engagement, so she is not new to youth-geared productions: “Some of the most powerful theater I’ve seen is for young people, and the audience can’t shy away from the truth and honesty in people’s experiences. This show allowed me as a director to bring theater for young audiences to a different demographic.” Her work at SCT also gives her “a unique perspective” on theater, from the classroom (SCT works with kids from 3 1/2 to high-school age) to the rehearsal room. She also gets to work with “young professionals coming in” through internships and fellowships.
Morales says this was one of several plays with which ArtsWest artistic director Mathew Wright approached her, and this was the one she most wanted to “share with the community.” It also “is part of my own education and my own personal growth.”
This is an unusual time to be working in the theater, as audiences return to in-person performances after so many months away. “This Girl …” is the third play in ArtsWest’s reopening season. Morales sees it as a vital part of life: “I strongly think theater is an expression of the human experience.” She hopes people will support not only theater, but the arts in general. “They have been part of our human evolution, our communities, our culture.” And they’re almost an antidote to the effects of technology’s dominance, especially in the lives of youth, Morales believes. “We will always gravitate toward what’s tactile, what makes humans connect with each other. There’s something so visceral about connecting in a space, together, while everyone’s witnessing the same experience. … The act of storytelling is a vital part of our humanity.”
That humanity involves playfulness, which Morales says is a key component of the play. “I really invite the audience to come and be an active participant and reignite their imagination … be a part of this world and come and play with us.”
You have nine more chances to do that by going to ArtsWest (4711 California SW) for “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” – today at 3 pm, and then the next two weeks for Thursday-friday-Saturday evening performances or Sunday matinees. (A pre-recorded performance will be available online, too.) You can buy tickets for any upcoming show in the theater by going here.