OC Theaters Take on Inauguration Day with Ghostlight Vigils and Dark Comedy

Playwright and filmmaker Lauren Velasco’s activism woke up on Nov. 8, 2016, and she got to work shedding any suffer-in-silence mentality. “I was a Hillary supporter straight from the beginning and I knew that’s an unpopular stance for someone my age,” says the 23-year-old. “Then after the election, I felt so guilty for being too cowardly to tell people why I supported her. I felt like I hadn’t done enough to keep this from happening and I want people to learn from my mistakes. I wrote this play to inspire people to take action.”

Her dark comedy Trumped debuts at Theatre Out at 7 p.m. on Inauguration Day in a staged reading directed by E.B. Bohks. A 9 p.m. show has just been added, as the 7 p.m. show quickly sold out.

“After the election, I started speaking out, and trying to become a more active citizen of these United States,” says the Cal State Fullerton applied theater grad. “When I was writing the play, I was angry because a man who is a bully, racist, sexist, and bigot had won the election. He didn’t even win the popular vote.”

She transformed that anger into art. Trumped‘s a mashup of A Christmas Carol and our current surreality: “T’was the night before the inauguration and all through the White House everyone was stirring, because things were fucked up!” says producer Marianne Almero. Throughout that night, the Donald is visited by three female ghosts who, hopefully, kick his ass.

“This event is pay-what-you-can for both entrance and concessions,” Almero says. “100% of funds raised will support charities and organizations that have been threatened with defunding under the new administration, such as Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, International Rescue Committee, and many more.”

Almero is fired up, and it’s infectious: “Shortly after his election, Trump tweeted that the ‘theatre must always be a safe and special place.’ On Inauguration Day, we will stand in solidarity with other theaters … to show the President that theater is a sanctuary for ideas and art and a place where we celebrate our differences while advocating for change!”

Indeed, theaters across the country are taking the prez-elect’s Hamilton tweet and throwing it back in his face by committing to blasting light into the dark times ahead. Instigated by The Ghostlight Project, on Inauguration Friday at 5:30 p.m. in each time zone, people will gather outside theaters to simultaneously light up the night with every kind of source. Each theater will leave on its ghostlight—a bare bulb mounted on a wheeled upright that’s left on after everyone is gone to keep the ghosts happy and provide a little illumination in these spaces that achieve total blackout—as a symbol of the theaters’ commitment to fighting against tyranny and promoting inclusion.

The Ghostlight Project organizers provide downloadable kits, script samples for the event, ideas on how to keep pledges going, and a list of participating theaters, which locally include the Garage Theatre, CSULB Theater Arts and Panndora Productions in Long Beach, and Chapman University’s Coalition of Artistic Students in Theater, aka C.A.S.T.

What to do before 5:30 on Inauguration Day? Watch The Concert For America: Stand Up, Sing Out! on its Facebook live stream starting at noon our time. The New York show is sold out, but there’s still time to host an official watch party for all your Broadway-theater-loving friends. Or just watch.

If theater lights aren’t your thing, attend the Inauguration Vigil for Human Rights: OC Rise! at the Old Orange County Courthouse from 5 to 8 p.m. The organizers say to bring signs, lights, candles with cups and all your friends. Get to know your fellow advocates, because it’s going to be a long four years—made shorter if we’re in it together.

Shine on, OC!

Trumped at Theatre Out, 402 W. Fourth St., Santa Ana; www.theatre.out.com. Fri., Jan. 20. 7 p.m. Reservations recommended.

Lisa Black proofreads the dead-tree edition of the Weekly and writes about the arts and South County beaches. Her OC roots go back to the Cuckoo’s Nest but she left to create original theater on four continents, then returned to bodysurf small waves.

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