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Laura Lorusso one of the writers in Lab’s 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge


One of the writers who’ve accepted Lab Theater’s 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge this year is Laura Lorusso. Laura has been an active in the local theater community for nearly twenty years, both as an actor and as a make-up artist. But what she really aspires to be is an accomplished playwright, and she’s already taken several steps in that direction.

Her crowning achievement to date has been a farce titled June & Jason’s Survival Guide to Divorce, which was produced in 2018 by The Naples Players. Rife with rib-splitting jokes and surprising situational comedy, the play delivers the same kind of laughs as ‘90s-era sitcoms. In fact, it’s been described as Friends meets Will & Grace.

But Laura’s journey as a playwright actually began in 2013 with Afterlife of the Rich and Famous, a dark comedy that was produced Let’s Put on a Show at Golden Gate Community Center. That same year, Laura won Lab Theater’s 24-Hour Playwriting Challenge with a one-act, 12-minute vignette titled “The Hall: Last Sunday” that sparkled with snappy dialogue, rib-splitting one-liners and a little song-and-dance number that brought down the house. Her reward? The following season, The Lab produced another of Laura’s plays, Scrooge TV: A Modern Christmas Carol, a spoof of the Charles Dickens classic that starred Dave Yudowitz (An Act of God) and Kendra Price.

On the acting side of the footlights, Laura has starred with the Naples Players in several shows and toured with a local comedy show, Joey and Maria’s Comedy Italian Wedding. As The Naples Players’ special effects makeup artist, Laura’s the one who has brought to life the macabre in productions like The Rocky Horror Show. She has also competed on Global Beauty Master, a national styling competition and television reality show.

This year is Laura’s fifth time competing in the 24-Hour Challenge. In addition to her win in 2013, she produced plays in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Laura’s 2017 offering was Crazy as a Loon, an hysterical comedy set in an apartment undergoing renovations. The following year, Lorusso wrote a farce structured around a character with Tourette’s Syndrome, a disorder that involves repetitive movements (such as blinking and shoulder movements), unwanted sounds or tics, and blurting out offensive words or profanity that cannot be easily controlled. Lorusso’s wrinkle on this riff was to have her character blurt out a succession of celebrity names, in alphabetical order, sometimes sans pants, much to the vexation of the other residents of the condominium in which he lived with his sister. Suzanne Davies directed a cast consisting of the celeb-spewing brother, Chloe Tsai (Anna in the Tropics, Heathers the Musical) as his sister and Jerry Olin as their estranged dad.

Although this is the fifth year in which she’s participating in the Lab’s playwriting project, Laura recognizes that it’s hardly an advantage as every year, Artistic Director Annette Trossbach and Coordinator Char Loomis “come up with something different, a little more challenging.” And with the COVID-necessitated switch to a 5-8 minute one-shot film, this is by far the hardest year. But in a good way. And besides, it’s more about producing an entertaining product that garners some laughs than about winning.

But Laura wants to win nonetheless, and one way you can help her is by viewing her film and making a donation to Lab Theater – as the top-grossing film wins! The films go live at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 21.

November 20, 2020.

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