Torn between doing what she had to do and doing what she loved, Laura Lorusso was at a loss. She loved writing and theatre but lacked formal arts education. She felt inadequate against the Players’ professionally-trained theatre company. Then she received some sage advice from then-Artistic Director, Dallas Dunnagan.
“Everything you need to know about theatre you will learn volunteering at The Naples Players,” Dunnagan told her.
It took nearly a decade of theatre work for Lorusso to understand.
“I didn’t believe it at the time—and there’s still more to learn—but premiering my show at The Naples Players has brought everything full circle.” However, learning from the theatre didn’t immediately pay off. “If anything, I sacrificed my friends, family, and relationships. But this play is the result of that sacrifice.”
Lorusso credits Dunnagan and The Naples Players for the journey she embarked on. “Without the encouragement, I couldn’t have done it. I didn’t feel like I was good enough. I didn’t think I could do it. I never thought this was possible.”
Lorusso left The Naples Players’ stage in 2011. By 2013, Lorusso made her playwriting debut at The Studio Players with Afterlife of the Rich and Famous. She upgraded her playwriting cachet by winning a 24-hour playwriting contest and premiering another play, Scrooge TV, for The Lab Theatre in Fort Myers. That’s when The Naples Players’ Associate Artistic Director, Jessica Walck reached out to see what else Lorusso was working on.
“We’re always looking for ways to push and empower our community to participate in the artistic process,” Walck said. “Laura made a number of remarkable strides in playwriting and it was important to The Naples Players that we help her in that process.”
It was Lorusso’s dream to produce a play for The Naples Players. Adding to that is her adoration for Walck.
“Jessica’s theatre experience and personality are a perfect fit for me,” Lorusso said. “She understands me on a personal level. We talk about ideas constructively without ego. It’s been a rewarding collaborative experience.”
And while some artists have trouble letting go, Lorusso is confident in the professional- level artistry of Walck and The Naples Players. “I trust her vision for the project. She understands the work. Nobody could have done a better job developing this play.”
June & Jason’s Survival Guide to Divorce opens October 24, 2018 in the Tobye Studio Theater at The Naples Players.