Project Series: A celebration of local writers at The Empty Space

Cassidy Eisen, Reporter

For several seasons, The Project Series has showcased and celebrated the creative visions of local writers. In the most recent rendition of the series, The Empty Space hosted Project: Phobia, a compilation of one-acts each inspired by different phobias, from Nov.16-18.

On one of the performance nights, a crowd of about 50 people witnessed Project: Phobia. The 45-minute performance consisted of five acts, each based around phobias ranging from comical, obscure fears to eerie and suspenseful ones. 

Written by Michelle Guerrero and directed by Carlos Vera, the first act, “Phobophobia,” was a comedic performance focused around Janet (Angela Poncetta), a woman who suffered from the fear of her many phobias. Heights, beards, dogs, flowers, even men- you name it, Janet was afraid of it. To the audience such obscure fears were comical, but it drew light to the fact that even the most seemingly incomprehensible phobias can consume one’s life. 

Cassidy Eisen
Dolls from the third act “Pediophobia,” written by Tyler Herzog , out for display after the show for the audience.

“Project: Phobia was a project I had been thinking about for a couple of years. I just thought it would be a fun show to produce,” producer Guerrero said. “Everyone has something they’re scared of or even just uncomfortable with. The series is a great way to bring in really experimental theater and performance pieces that a lot of audiences aren’t going to see everywhere.” 

The final act, “Paruresis” was written by Alissa Morrow and directed by Michael Pawloski. For those unaware of the meaning, Paruresis is the phobia of urinating in the presence of others, often associated with public restrooms. The act opened with Mari (Lindsey Pearson), who vlogged her experience confronting her fear. To her surprise, there was an anonymous woman in the stall beside her who occasionally commented during the vlog, which made Mari even more uncomfortable. After she committed the deed in the bathroom, the mysterious figure turned into a frightening creature. 

Mari’s fate was unknown, and the audience finally understood the intensity of Paruresis.

Jenna Fernandez, one of the actresses from the first act, expressed her excitement over her involvement in the project.

“This project was so different from the other plays that I had been in, and it was really fun to be a part of. It was one of the best acting experiences I ever had, and I can’t wait to do it again,” Fernandez said.

In the upcoming season, Guerrero will be producing two additional Project Series Shows.  

The first, Project: Writers Workshop, will be a writers workshop for a small group of writers to not only draft but also create one-acts to be performed next April. In August, there will be Project: Rerun, welcoming back six favorite one acts from the past Project Series shows.