“Like Peanut Butter and Jelly”

by Allyson Yoder

Watching Anthony and Juan perform in rehearsals, I am struck by their powerful kinetic energy and ability to create a complex, charged scene using pure movement. It’s obvious the two have learned to collaborate “like peanut butter and jelly” from their ability to tackle serious themes with great energy and a dose of humor. – Allyson Yoder

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Anthony Kelly “AKellz”

What do you do when you’re not doing Light Rail Plays? “I dance with Epik Dance Company and Electro Academy, a dance crew out here. (With Epik) I’m doing residencies at schools, so right now I’m working at Westwood, that’s in Mesa, and we’re setting work on them—where they’re creating material based on what’s recyclable and working with sustainability. It’s a collaboration. I also do the Be Kind People Project, that’s a character development program….that incorporates dance.”

How is this experience different than working with RYT on Disengaged? “Disengaged was written already, and I didn’t have anything to do with the creative process on that. But this is basically…we get paired up with somebody, and then we make something from scratch. So we go out, we survey the field, which is the light rail, and then we talk about some commonalities that we have as people, and what we’re seeing in other people, and how we relate to the light rail.”

On working with his partner, Juan: “Juan was in Disengaged, and I had a couple scenes with him. He was my son in that show. [But with Light Rail Plays], we’re making something that I think is pretty unique, and it’s just us two. Our visions collaborating like peanut butter and jelly—a sandwich, if you will.

Their concept: “We’re working on the idea of people getting on the light rail, and although the light rail is going to a destination, we still don’t necessarilyl know where we’re going in life. A lot of people are confined to the light rail. When we did interviews, a lot of people were like, yeah this is how I get from point A to point B. They don’t necessarily take it by choice, they take it because they have to… And they are confined to it, and they don’t know anything else except where the light rail goes: this far east and this far westbound, but they don’t know anything outside of that. So Juan’s character is trying to get to college, to a school that’s out of state, BUT…. He sees a friend, an “old friend” who is going to try to lure him back into some bad habits. I’m not going to give the ending away, but let’s just say he has a struggle trying to figure out what’s important, and he may or may not end up stuck on the light rail like everyone else.”

Using movement to tell a story: “There’s only 3 or 4 words, max. We noticed that on the light rail speech can get sucked in, to the sound of the air conditioning, the doors, the sounds of people talking. But with movement, and the way we’re doing it, it’s not ordinary. People aren’t used to seeing people do movement… especially the way that we’re doing it. It will definitely send its message across.”

What he’ll take away: “One thing I’m going to take away will be how to collaborate better. You never know who you’re going to work with…everybody has a different story. So how do we work with someone and meet them halfway, how do we find strengths, and then build off of those?”

 

Juan Carlos Rodriguez

What do you do when you’re not doing Light Rail Plays? “When I’m not doing Light Rail Plays, I either play video games, get on Facebook and message people, or hang out with my friends. I went to school at Genesis Academy, but I finished in January, so I’m just waiting for May to walk. I got all my credits and passed all my AIMS, so I’m graduating early.”

How did you get involved with Rising Youth Theater? “Through Genesis Academy. RYT went there as a drama group after school. People basically went to get out of fifth hour, but I just wanted to join and I ended up liking it. So I got involved with Disengaged. I played Daniel. It was a fun experience, an unforgettable experience.”

What’s different about Light Rail Plays? “In a play, people know the beginning, middle and end. But on the light rail, it’s literally out of nowhere. In theatre, they’re expecting it, but on the light rail, it’s unexpected.”

The concept behind their piece: “It’s a silent story, where we don’t talk, we just do actions. But basically, two friends happen to catch each other on the light rail. My character goes through this constant struggle…. My character used to be involved with drugs, but finally got out of it. And Anthony’s character sucks me back in.”

How did people respond when you tried it out on the Light Rail? “Some people were just sitting there watching, and towards the end, when we got off, all we heard was clapping. So they liked it!”

On working with his partner, Anthony: “Anthony’s a cool guy, and I kind of knew I was gonna be his partner, because me and him are both kind of wild and crazy. He’s just a really cool partner to work with. When we have these talks, when it’s just me and him, we both can agree on stuff, and disagree on stuff, and not get too angry about it.”

What do you want to tell people about Light Rail Plays? “Come check us out! Me and my partner are going to be between Camelback and Central, and Osborne and Central.”

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