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Spin it round again...

As it turns out, Mercury is in retrograde until March 9. Mercury in retrograde...hmmmmmm…I’ve heard people (the internet) talk about how disastrous that can be but honestly, I have no idea what it means.  Since I read my horoscope from time to time (more than I care to admit, actually) I had a resource for my query. According to the Astro Twins (my favorite astrology sisters:, when Mercury is in retrograde, this smallest of planets appears to reverse its direction making ‘technology, travel and communication go haywire.’ As you’ll soon see, I don't have a kick-ass video to share this week and I will blame Mercury and his backwards spinning for it.

Before all that haywiring took place however, I was able to interview the two and only two, actors in off the WALL production’s new show, Hoard. The 90-minute play, opening March 6th and playing through March 21st, stars Virginia Wall Gruenert and Erika Cuenca as the strange bedfellows, Viv and Claire. In Gruenert’s words, the play is as follows:

‘Viv lives alone, in her rather large house. She is a hoarder. She has an adult daughter Anna, who does not live with her, who has decided that she needs serious help with this hoarding issue. So she hires Claire to come in and … whip her into shape’

I met Gruenert and Cuenca for our interview at Carnegie Stage, the theater where Hoard is being set. Just before their arrival, I got to take a sneak peak of the set designed and implemented by Tucker Topel. I pulled back the lobby curtain and my jaw dropped. The nearly 800 sq ft theater space suddenly felt uninhabitable. There is a fake ceiling, a shag carpet, boxes, boxes and more boxes: video tapes, plastic bags, a bird cage, a crocheted afghan, a coffee cup or two. It's suffocating, cramped, a fire hazard. Viv has a problem; a much bigger problem than her daughter let on to Claire.

Ginny: ...(and) that’s the story. That’s what happens.

Erika: That’s where we MEET these people.

Ginny: That’s where we meet these people. And then, it gets into my relationship with my daughter and my son and my husband. And Claire's… relationship with herself...The action, if you will, the action is my stalling. I don’t want any of my stuff to go. So it’s almost 90 minutes of me (saying) you can’t take my stuff. I can’t give it up.

Gruenert and director Kira Simring reiterated how important this play is, not only because of its content but because of its unique voice and the opportunities it creates. This is a new play. A new play never performed before, written by a local, female playwright. Hoard, produced by, starring, directed by and featuring a female crew and designers (except for one) is “very on brand” as Cuenca puts it. This is part of their mission as stated on the off the WALL productions website:

Our focus is on consistently excellent art...Paying a living wage to all employees...Uplifting female artists...Diversity and gender equality...New, socially relevant plays

This play gives life to Viv and Claire, the stories they share and the demons they each must face. It also gives life to the artists, creators and visionaries involved with the project. It allows them (it allows ME!)  to do their craft, speak their truth, practice their art and share their talent in a sustainable and financially viable way. It gives us, audience members and creators alike, a chance to see, hear and witness a slice of one another’s humanity …in the quiet of a dark theater…  in 90 minute chunks at a time.


March 6 - March 21

off the WALL productions

Pittsburgh's alternative theater company

equal, diverse, inclusive


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