A few years ago, in 2014, I was recruited to be part of a new project at the Philly Improv Theater (PHIT). The Director, Steve Kleinedler, was putting together a show unlike any other. The idea was to form a family onstage with a multi generational conceit, but luckily due to the actual age ranges of the performers, there was no need for a force fit. When we first met, we didn’t have proper names or a name for the show. After working together some, the show started to create itself. I picked our family name “Pinwright” because it is the last name from the first sitcom ever, at least according to Guinness World Records.
The first television sitcom was Pinwright´s Progress (BBC, UK, 1946-47) starring character actor James Hayter (UK) as J Pinwright, owner of the smallest multiple store in the world.
Mary, Kelly Jo, and Susan play 3 sisters. I play Kelly Jo’s husband, and David and Molly play our grown children. We assembled to discuss the show and create a rehearsal schedule for the summer and did our first shows in September 2014. Dirty Laundry performs monthly on a full sized stage at PHIT. The show runs and feels like a sitcom, I mean that in the best way. We have grown to love each other as a family does. Dirty Laundry is totally unique, and never will happen again.
The cast of Dirty Laundry (Top to Bottom, Left to Right)
Peg Connelly: Mary Eklund
Elaine Connelly: Susan LaPalombara
Connie Pinwright: Kelly Jo Little
Bob Pinwright: Rick Horner
Haley Pinwright: Molly Scullion
Marcus Pinwright: David Donnella
Each month we are introduced by Steve and then do a 45 minute show based on one audience suggestion. There is a variety of energy throughout our show, with movement up and down in that energy. I feel quiet scenes are extremely engaging and if you’re doing a scene, there’s five other people in the shadows around you, adding to the energy. The show is about how the characters all feel about each other, it is not overly plot-driven. In a normal improv show we would want to be able to see everything that happens once it is said. But this show is designed to be more about how things affect people, so the aftermath, it’s not so much the telling of the story, but seeing how things affect us.
We have 3 downstage spaces and 2 upstage spaces. Upstage is Peg’s place and Elaine’s place; down center is the living room. On the sides, left down center is the kitchen and right down center is the study. Everything is not what it seems to be, for example our “couch” is a park bench that we cover with an afghan and some throw pillows. Generic offsite spaces are rarely needed but there is room for a few off-site scenes and if our story calls for one of these offsite spaces, we play the lip of the stage. The edits between scenes and background movement are done in a way I have never seen done by any other improv group too.
This Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 is our last show. There is another write up about this farewell show here.
Thanks Steve, for the vision and hands on to make this happen.
Thanks Susan, my kindred spirit and play pal, you brighten my spirits and I love love playing with you.
Thanks Kelly Jo, you always rock and I know how much doing this means to you and I have been so glad to be a part of it.
Thanks Mary, you are one of the most positive people I have ever met, I love your laugh and I can’t wait to play with YOU in front of a crowd wherever we end up next.
Thanks David, you are so smart and quick, it has been fun playing with you and I enjoy Dadding you.
Thanks Molly, you are such a great actor/actress and I always genuinely feel the emotions you are laying down. You are so so fun.
Thanks to all of you, who have regularly explored the world Pinwright. Cheers!