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WYOpen Stages to Present ‘coop: the lesbian chicken play’ Sept. 23-24 at UW

September 16, 2022
Emilygrace Piel and River von Waldron

WYOpen Stages, a diversity initiative of the University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance, will present the premiere of playwright River von Waldron’s “coop: the lesbian chicken play” Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23-24.

Directed by UW Department of Theatre and Dance student Emilygrace Piel, of Cheyenne, and produced by Cecilia Aragón and Patrick Konesko, both department faculty members, the production runs nightly at 7:30 p.m. in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Thrust Theatre.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in person at the Performing Arts box office Monday through Friday from noon-6 p.m., by calling (307) 766-6666 during business hours or by going online at www.tix.com/ticket-sales/uwyo/6984.

This season’s WYOpen Stages dramatic staged readings focus on issues of LGBTQ identity.

“It has been my honor and privilege to be part of a dynamic theater diversity project that offers space for all of us to express sexuality, individuality and openly embrace differences,” Piel says.

Known colloquially as “the lesbian chicken play,” von Waldron’s dark comedy looks into the messy lives of lesbian farmers, Clove and B.

The play asks, “What happens when you need to get to the hospital for a severed thumb, but you don’t have a car ’cause it’s too expensive and you can’t get an ambulance ’cause it’s too expensive but you also can’t get a driver ’cause it’s too expensive? You hitchhike, of course.” Additionally, “What do you get when you hitchhike without a thumb? Well, you get coop.” Facing addiction, financial insecurity and queer elders who do not know they are queer elders, the lesbians attempt to find more life among their survival, according to the production.

“‘Coop’ may be a story about lesbians and chickens, but it also creates an empowering narrative about people finding community, about choosing love and support even when it seems that there are easier paths to traverse,” Piel says. “I hope you enjoy this story about queer joy and creating space to flourish, rather than just survive, as much as I have.”

Von Waldron is a Philadelphia-based actor, singer, playwright, composer and musician. Select credits include “Ghost Town: The Musical” (book, lyrics and music) for the Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals; and “Three Scorpions Walk Into a Bar” (playwright) for StageQ’s Capital New Play Festival. Von Waldron has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in musical theater from the University of the Arts’ Ira Brind School of Theater Arts, located in Philadelphia.

Piel is a graduate of the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas and Laramie County Community College, and will graduate from UW in December with a BFA in theater design and tech management, with a stage management concentration.

Piel has directed “coop” as part of an ongoing internship with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and the UW Department of Theatre and Dance.

For more information, call Kathy Kirkaldie, UW Fine Arts coordinator, at (307) 766-2160 or email kirisk@uwyo.edu.

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