2012-07-24 / Front Page

Marlboro playwright’s first effort to debut in New York

‘Imagine Laughter’ by Tobi Sigona bows Aug. 8
Staff Writer

Tobi Sigona Tobi Sigona About two years ago, Tobi Sigona, 22, began to craft a short play about grief, friendship and imagination for a creative writing class.

Sigona, a Marlboro resident, remained dedicated to the script after the assignment’s completion. When she had spare time, she spent quiet evenings alone, hashing out the details of the hour-long one-act draft.

Eventually, Sigona and some of her Rutgers University peers held a staged reading of the play. The crowd received the piece well, which inspired Sigona to send the work to a number of theater production companies.

Now, Sigona’s “Imagine Laughter” is scheduled to hit the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, New York, at 7 p.m. Aug. 8-11 as part of the organization’s Summerfest 2012.

“I love everything about theater, and acting was always my biggest passion. I always liked writing as well,” said Sigona, a recent graduate with a major in theater and a minor in English. “This is for the love and passion of it all.”

“Imagine Laughter” centers on a woman named Charlie who is going through a difficult situation, Sigona said. The main character meets a man, Jude, who helps Charlie’s imagination shine through the darkness.

Sigona noted that there are several flashbacks in the performance, which is largely built upon the connections between various characters.

The Marlboro High School graduate found the inspiration to pen the play through her own active imagination and an event that took place when she was a child, Sigona said.

The stars and the director of “Imagine Laughter” consist of Sigona’s fellow Rutgers University graduates.

To prepare for the undertaking, the cast rehearses about three times a week, the young writer said. Sigona said the company will amplify its efforts as the play’s New York debut nears.

For Sigona, who has acted on stage since she was 10, it is a new experience to watch other actors inject their own interpretations of Sigona’s characters into the play.

“It’s really interesting to hear what the actors have to say, because they are working with the characters and they might have some new ideas I didn’t think of,” she said.

Before the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s artistic developers picked up the play, Sigona said, she went through a nerve-racking waiting period, similar to what she has faced as an actor after an audition.

Representatives of several other festivals have since asked to feature Sigona’s work, but she chose to stick with the first offer.

Taking on the role of a playwright came naturally to the young woman.

“I always have a picture in my head as I’m writing. I see the actors, in my head, walking around the stage,” Sigona said. “I try to write it as a conversation that could actually happen. You must realize that you have a message to portray.”

Sigona’s résumé is slated to reach beyond one festival.

In September, her second play, “Young and Precious,” will be produced at the Cabrini Repertory Festival in New York City.

Although these opportunities will not place a large chunk of cash in Sigona’s hands, she said her reward is the act of creation itself.

“I think art is a really great way of expressing yourself, whether it be in theater or anything else,” she said. “It really brings out our imaginations. I think it’s a really important thing to have.”

For more information, visit the website teelee123.wix.com/imaginelaughter.

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