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(lumin)theater lab to perform Escape from Happiness

Aaron Henry's character feeds Rob Anderson's character during a scene from "Escape from Happiness." Leah Christine, left, is also pictured.1 / 4
Leah Christine, left, and Kelli Tatum rehearse a scene from "Escape from Happiness."2 / 4
Elizabeth intimidates Rolly in this scene rehearsal. Pictured, from left, are Kelli Tatum, Dave Warg and Libby Wasylik.3 / 4
The cast of "Escape from Happiness" will perform at the Hastings Arts Center May 11-13 and May 19-21. Michelle Wirth / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

After searching for a way to get more involved with the creative and artistic side of theater, Caitlin Weber and Libby Wasylik decided to take things into their own hands. The two co-founded (lumin)theater lab, a theater collaborative that began in November 2016. They will perform their first official production at the Hastings Arts Center May 11-13 and May 19-21.

(lumin)theater will perform "Escape from Happiness," a comedy of sorts, but Wasylik said that there is more to it.

"It's a comedy with a brain and a heart attached," Wasylik said.

Wasylik compares the play to the likes of "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Arrested Development." It is about a family who lives in a rough part of town. They continue to get into some crazy situations that "it becomes almost this farcical level of ridiculousness," Wasylik said. The family deals with abandonment issues, anger issues, coping with a sick family member and more. In addition, drugs show up in the family basement and the cops are going to charge the family matriarch with possession.

"So the family is just trying to figure its way out of this mess," Wasylik said.

Audiences can expect several hilarious moments from "Escape from Happiness," but Wasylik warned that the production is not appropriate for children. It is for adults and "it's hilarious, funny, but also moving," she said.

(lumin)theater lab has nine members in the company. Wasylik said that everyone is involved in all aspects of every production.

"It's a very collaborative experience," she said.

The group chose "Escape from Happiness" as their first production because it was the show that everyone was the most excited about when they were looking through shows. There was also a performance opportunity for everyone in the company. They even cast a few additional parts.

The overall goal for the theater group is to have a community that can help everyone grows as artists and learn more about the practice and art of making theater, Wasylik said.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. May 11-13 and May 19-20, and at 2 p.m. May 21. Hastings Arts Center is at 216 Fourth St. E. (lumin)theater lab uses sliding scale ticket pricing. All tickets are general admission. The audience can choose what they want to pay within the range of $9 to $39. Tickets are available for purchase in advance at Brown Paper Tickets: For more information, email


Kelli Tatum, Nora

Caitlin Weber, Gail

Aaron Henry, Junior

Jane Sterk, Dian

Tom Sorenson, Mike

Rob Anderson, Tom

Leah Christine, Mary Ann

Libby Wasylik, Elizabeth

Zach Filkins, Stevie

Dave Warg, Rolly

Director: Libby Wasylik

Assistant director: Steve Soler

Stage manager: Danelle Lewis

Assistant stage manager: Marty Weber

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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