Loyola Theatre Arts & Dance junior Javier Mederos will perform in a Zoom reading of Jeffrey LaHoste’s new play Zephyr this Friday. LaHoste, who founded Tectonic Theater Project with Moisés Kaufman, was a guest artist in the department’s Acting IV course, working on Movement Work with students as well as staging scenes from Zephyr. It was slated for a New Orleans premiere as a staged reading at Loyola in April, but the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in that plan.
“We have decided to do a Zoom reading Friday, May 8 with many of our New York-based collaborating artists, company members, and one Loyola student, Javier Mederos,” said LaHoste, co-founder of Tectonic Theater Project. “These sorts of internal readings are typical of Tectonic Theater Project’s approach to developing new works. As it’s designed for the writer – me, in this case – to see what they’ve got.”
Mederos was a member of the original New Orleans-based cast of Zephyr’s staged reading. While many things have been cancelled and most of the world is stuck inside, getting the chance to be a part of this staged reading is an opportunity of a lifetime, according to Mederos. “Zephyr is a wonderful piece of theatre with so much room to grow and change and I’m proud to be a part of that process,” he said.
While doing readings over Zoom is not ideal, LaHoste said it has been useful to hear the text. “We’re working on new models that will allow us to incorporate more techniques of Moment Work, our method for devising theater, into our modified process,” he said.
LaHoste noted that his experience at Loyola University New Orleans inspired this new draft of Zephyr. By seeing scenes prepared by students, he was able to hear the text as well as see how it lived onstage, according to LaHoste. “I’m so grateful for the time I had to work with the talented Theater and Dance students at Loyola,” he said.
Zephyr follows a woman who fails to find her runaway son and begins to disconnect from reality and to resist those who would help her: the judgmental sister who knows her secret shame; her stressed-out and usually tipsy employer; and the generous but self-centered movie star who is bewitched by her unique way of being in the world. When a friend bequeaths her a little green parrot named Zephyr, she develops a profound and intimate relationship with the bird. But will he help her find salvation, or will they both be lost to a world of fantasy? Zephyr asks if a woman who has difficulty facing adult challenges can transcend her limitations and attain enlightenment and ecstasy. With a parrot.