1812 Productions’ "This is the Week That Is"

“This is the Week That Is” Closes

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1812 Productions’ “This is the Week That Is” ends its seasonal run at Plays & Players Theater this weekend.

Famously developed, co-written and directed by 1812 Productions’ Producing Artistic Director Jennifer Childs as a fast, furious comic blend of “The Daily Show”, “Saturday Night Live” and the 1960s’ British hit TV show, “That Was the Week That Was”, the sketch and newscast driven “This is the Week That Is” has been an annual treat for 15 years before 2022.

For this theater season’s iteration, however, Childs has made some changes by moving its weeks-long run from December to May, and its directorship from her single vision to that of first-timer Tanaquil Márquez, one of four members of the 1812 Productions cohort with Childs.

1812 Productions’ "This is the Week That Is" ends its seasonal run at Plays & Players Theater this weekend.
Donnie Hammond and Jackie Soro

“This Is The Week That Is” runs until May 22 with an all-writing, all-doing live, musically-driven cast at Plays & Players Theater featuring Sean Close, Donnie Hammond, Frank Jimenez, Pax Ressler, Jackie Soro and Lexi Thammavong – the latter, 1812 Productions’ youngest ever member at 22. And of course, Jen Childs. (Don’t blink either, as by June 8, 1812 Productions heads into actor-writer Bi Jean Ngo’s In Search of the Kitchen Gods, and its culinary journey through her Vietnamese American identity).

“This is definitely our most musical Week That Is, including original music that I’m writing, and our most devised piece, considering we got up and running within three weeks. We’ve upped the ante in new and exciting ways,” says composer-actor Pax Ressler.

“Having more music, perhaps subconsciously for the sake of celebration, was a goal for us. I really did fulfill an urge, say, to write a musical theater song exclaiming about how we were alive and in person for the top of the show, how we weren’t on Zoom this time, and how scary and exciting this is. I wanted to wonder aloud if this was all OK while making a joke at the expense of the discomfort, we might all still have sharing spaces in person these days.”

Ressler believes that being Non-Binary means there are absolutely no limits as to what they can do or what they can be, or play, within “This Is The Week That Is”, that who plays who, and why, never gets held to race, gender or identity. “This breaks down the binary even further,” says Ressler. “We never make gender the butt of a joke. Acting without gender-conforming creates even greater, more expansive realities as to who can play who.”

1812 Productions’ "This is the Week That Is" ends its seasonal run at Plays & Players Theater this weekend.
Sean Close

This iteration, Ressler portrays a Dating Game host, a singing disease (“a great gag, wait until you see this”), and someone who does their level-headed best to explain NFTs through song. Beyond the specifics of roles and songs, Ressler is just trying to get more and more Queer people involved in this project. “And I get excited by the thought of This Is The Week That becoming Queerer and weirder… something with different pieces of the city in on this project. As Jen invites newer and more diverse people into the cast, that means newer and more diverse audiences.”

With that, Marquez notes that there are so many new, diverse and younger comic actors among the This Is The Week That Is cast, Márquez was excited to be asked to direct (“such as rare pleasure”) and even more thrilled to play up to such changes in the show as well as those in this city.

1812 Productions’ "This is the Week That Is" ends its seasonal run at Plays & Players Theater this weekend.
The Company of THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS

“My goal was to celebrate new voices and faces,” says the director. “Each new person, and each returning person, is unique with their own voice, their own walk of life, their own story. So there is a different energy as to what I have witnessed of this show since before I got on stage with it, as well as since my start here. This Is The Week That Is is now not just about American politics and local politics, it is the world before us – global politics. As Americans, we tend to forget that there is a whole world beyond us. So, it is important to have the bodies in the space to truly and accurately represent all of that. If audiences know that they’re being represented on stage, that interests them. They’ll want to see what This Is The Week That Is says about them. I’d love that process to be even faster, but with this diverse cast, it is a stronger invitation to inclusivity.”

Images: Mark Garvin

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