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Chance Theater proudly presents a staged reading of Hongo

Chance Theater, Anaheim’s official resident theater company, is delighted to present a staged reading of a brand new mind-bending play as part of the 2022 OTR New Works Series. Written by Chance Theater’s 2022 resident playwright Exal Iraheta and directed by Khanisha Foster (“Yellowman”), this staged reading will be presented on Wednesday, August 3rd and Sunday, August 7th at 7:30pm.

“Hongo” is about gifted scientist Dr. Mirian Reyes who has discovered a method of using mycelium cells to heal damaged brains. When her radically progressive son, Dagoberto, is left in a vegetative state after a performance art show turns violent, Mirian uses her research to revive him. However, the results are not as she imagined after his consciousness takes a life of its own, leaving Mirian in deep shiitake.

After watching the documentary “Fantastic Fungi” (which he highly recommends), playwright Exal Iraheta explains that he “was astounded by two things: One, how scientists pronounce fungi (not like “fun-guy”… I know my fave pun too); and two, how the mycelium network mirrors our own neurology.” Seriously. Do a quick image search comparing the two and you’ll see what Exal’s talking about. Iraheta continues, “And like any great fungal infection, I mean idea, that small spore of information led me to reflect on my indigenous heritage and beliefs, and relationship to the planet. This made me wonder if there ever can be a future in which we can live in harmony with nature again? And what would it take to get there? So I thought, why not explore it through story. Plus, listen, I have never done shrooms (for real) but they’re literally wondrous organisms, and I wonder what they would have to say if they could talk (or maybe if we listened?). I’m very excited to start the exploration of this story with Chance Theater as it’s very new with hidden moments yet to discover, and I look forward to future conversations because time is ticking for our blue marble.”

MEET THE PLAYWRIGHT

Exal Iraheta (he/his) is a Chicago-based Salvi-American playwright & screenwriter by way of Houston, TX. Humorous and uncomfortable, his work explores the intersections of identity, family, violence, sexuality, and magic through his lens as a brown queer first-generation son. Exal is a 2020/2021 Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit member and a selected playwright in the 2018 Fornés Playwriting Workshop. In 2019 his play They Could Give No Name was chosen for Victory Gardens’ Ignition Festival, received an honorable mention in the American Playwriting Foundation’s 2019 Relentless Award, and was a finalist in the 2020 National Playwrights Conference and the 2020 Judith Royer Excellence in Playwriting Award. Most recently, his play Last Hermanos was selected for Magic Theatre’s 2021 Virgin Play Festival and was produced as an audio drama by A Red Orchid Theatre. Last Hermanos will premiere in Spring 2022 as part of A Red Orchid Theatre’s 2021-22 season. Exal earned an MFA from Northwestern University’s Writing for the Screen and Stage program and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Film & Video Production. He is incredibly excited to work with Chance Theater this season.

Chance Theater’s 2022 OTR Reading Series would not be possible without our incredible sponsors: National Endowment for the Arts, The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation, and Jennifer Ruckman & Ken Favell.

This article was released by Chance Theater.