This summer, Associate Teaching Professor, Ivan R. Lopez, premiered two short plays at Summer Shorts and Miami 1 Acts and he clowned at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut and at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
In June, Lopez’s play, I Found This on the Web, was one of eight short plays receiving world premieres at this year’s Summer Shorts: Homegrown Edition at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. His play was a comedy about a date gone so wrong that Siri, the digital AI assistant on the guy’s smartwatch, begins interfering and dishing advice about his failed romantic life.
This year’s Summer Shorts featured plays written exclusively by South Florida playwrights – the first time in the program’s 25 year history. All of the playwrights were fellows in City Theatre’s Homegrown program which supports emerging BIPOC playwrights. The creative team also featured many FIU Theatre artists including fellow faculty member Marina Pareja (costume design) and alumni Melissa Almaguer (director), Ernesto Gonzalez (sound design), Samuel Krogh (actor), and Daniella Valdivieso (intern).
“As we move into a world where artificial intelligence is weaving itself into the fabric of our everyday lives, my play had fun imagining what that would look like in the complicated world of dating,” said Lopez. “Working with a team of all South Florida theatre artists was a testament to the creative power of our community. I was very proud to be part of this year’s stellar lineup of short plays.”
Lopez’s short play, Lyfting, also premiered at Miami One Acts (M1A) at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes. The play (which featured FIU Theatre alumna Melissa Ann Hubicsak) was a slice-of-life short taking place in a Lyft, as a driver and passenger navigate through a traffic jam on the Palmetto expressway to get back to the hustle of 2023 Miami.
In July, Lopez worked at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut as a camp clown. The camp, founded 35 years ago by Paul Newman, provides a “different kind of healing” for children coping with cancer and other serious illnesses. Each session at camp has two camp clowns creating skits, visiting program areas as wacky characters, and facilitating play. Lopez (known as Morph at camp) worked one session this summer. This was his sixth summer at the camp.
Lopez (Morph) and Eileen Earnest (Turtle) clowning around at camp.
“Hole in the Wall is one of the most magical places on Earth,” says Lopez. “The work we do there is creativity on demand. We use our theatre skills to create moments of joy and silliness that fuel connection and contribute to the wildly fun time these amazing and inspiring kids have at camp.”
Lopez’s role at camp is part of the work he does year-round with Healthy Humor, Inc., an arts organization whose professional performers create moments of joy, wonder, laughter and comfort for hospitalized children and their families. Throughout the summer, he continued his work as a Red Nose Doc at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital where he makes clown rounds as Dr. Purple. This is his ninth year working as a hospital clown.
In June, Lopez and the Healthy Humor clowns were featured in a segment on WSFL’s Inside South Florida program. The segment featured an interview with Lopez and clips of him clowning as Dr. Purple.
“(These kids) are going through some of the most unimaginable things that you can think of,” he says in the segment. “But they haven’t forgotten that they’re kids. Our role is to come in there and just play and we end up treating the healthy part of the child.”
For more on Lopez, visit his website.