Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The production, Silent Joy, will soon be making its debut as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about its premise?
Melissa Ordaz: Silent Joy tells the story of a girl trapped by her own demons who decides to help a kind, mute boy named Joy whose mouth is sewn shut. Together, they set out on an epic journey, facing otherworldly perils, to seek revenge on the person that inflicted this abuse on Joy. In the end, the heroine must face her darkest memories to find redemption for her friend and discover the truth about herself. A modern narrative from an upcoming graphic novel that was inspired by the classic quest story, Dante's Inferno, Silent Joy is an enthralling tale of friendship and forgiveness that at once deals with the messiness of humanity and contemplates the reasons for existence.
BD: As the director and writer of the production, what was the inspiration for bringing this story to the stage from its original source material?
MO: I was so excited by the story and the depth of the characters that I knew I wanted to bring it to the stage. I knew that actors would love to dig their teeth into these roles and that audiences would love to see them living and breathing in front of them. The complexity of the story and the challenge of figuring out how to bring it clearly and freshly to the stage made it even more intriguing.
BD: You have a tremendous cast and crew involved with the production, including a live score performed by two onstage musicians. What can you share with us about the creative process in bringing the show to life?
MO: We developed this piece largely through a devising process. Actors on stage, as well as the creative team off stage, would come together and create in the space. Much of the music was composed in the rehearsal room while Matt Ordaz (Composer) watched and responded to what the actors were doing. The actors would often respond to props brought in by the creative team and create movement utilizing those props. It was a very collaborative process and one full of play and discovery.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
MO: I was drawn to this story because of the way that it examines the psyche of the protagonist from the inside out. Instead of seeing a girl contemplating suicide in the real world and guessing that there is a lot under the surface, this play is told from the vantage point of "under the surface" with only moments of seeing how that bubbles up and affects the real world. I think that brings a whole new understanding and appreciation for the epic battles that a lot of people fight internally on a daily basis. And ultimately, this is a show of hope and not succumbing to those internal battles. We hope to inspire and encourage those that are fighting and, hopefully, build empathy and increase awareness/understanding in those who do not struggle in this way.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for Silent Joy?
MO: I believe that Silent Joy works well for Fringe because it really focusses on the performances of the actors and musicians. It does not have elaborate sets or even an excessive amount of production value. While it is an adventure story, the actors themselves, aided by the music, are the ones that truly create the different locales traversed over the course of the story. Whether it is the multiple characters that our heroes meet along the way, the inanimate objects that they use, or the very landscape that they wander through, the company of actors bring it all to life.
BD: The show will be appearing at the studio/stage from June 6-29, 2019. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
MO: The life of this show started last summer. We then had staged readings in October and November and now are at the Hollywood Fringe. All that to say, yes, this show will live on past the fringe festival. This is really another stop for us in a long road to develop this piece and hopefully bring it to New York. Exact plans for where it will go next have not been made yet, but we do plan to keep developing it.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Silent Joy?
MO: Please come and check us out! You can find more info and links to tickets on our website: silentjoytheplay.com.