Actor Adam Zivkovic ’10, known professionally as Adam Ziv, remembers reading the script of Laughing Wild, a two-person play written by Christopher Durang in 1987, for the first time as a sophomore at Princeton. He watched two seniors perform the play as a thesis show and has waited for an opportunity to be in the show ever since.
In fact, Ziv has tried to put on the play three times in the last seven years — twice in New York City and once in California — but plans fell through when actors had to drop the project. Over brunch one day in his Los Angeles home, Ziv made a fourth attempt, asking college friend Lovell Holder ’09 to collaborate on a production of the show. Ziv would play the male lead and Holder would direct. They went looking for the perfect actress and landed Dominique Salerno ’10, an MFA graduate of the American Conservatory who has performing a solo show she wrote for the past two years. The three had become friends doing theater as Princeton students; now, they’re putting the final touches on a production of Laughing Wild that opens June 7 at the Los Angeles Theater Center.
Much of the show’s challenge lies in its structure. The show is separated into three parts: The first is a monologue by the female character, the second a monologue by the male character, and the final scene is an encounter between the two. Ziv and Salerno began preparing their solo scenes separately before working on the last piece of the show together when they were both in LA.
Salerno said working on a play feels different now that she and her colleagues are professional actors who “have an understanding of ourselves as artists.” Rather than feeling the time pressure of performing a college show, she feels this one has “naturally evolved into what it’s supposed to be.” Ziv agrees that he is only now ready to play this role — one that takes up the initial struggles of the gay experience. Since coming out, he has struggled to find gay roles that “accurately tell our stories,” he said, but this one does it right.
“Part of being a queer artist is creating opportunities for yourself because they aren’t quite as many for us,” Ziv said. “It means a lot to me that we’re bringing this back to LA for the first time in 15 years, especially given what is going on in our political climate.”
Lovell, who produced the movie Some Freaks and directed Loserville in 2016, has been juggling this project with editing his most recent film. He hadn’t read the play for seven years until Ziv brought it to him, but was shocked at how much it speaks to our current day and “how little has changed in the 30 years since it was written.” He decided not to update the original script because he thought the references still hold up today.
Ten percent of proceeds from the production will be donated to LGBT homeless youth. For more information on the show, visit http://laughingwildonstage.com/.