March 24 2017 07:45 AM

Playwright Lisa Konoplisky finds human connection in the absurd

Lisa Konoplisky is no ordinary playwright. And her wacky, multi-dimensional style of writing is on full display in Ixion Theatre’s latest production, “Askew Askance A Squirrel!: An Evening in Lisa Konoplisky's World.”

The title is unusual, but showing uniqueness is what Konoplisky thinks is most important to writers.

“It’s easy to get stuck in a habit and always go to something that you think either people will respond to or gets laughs in someway — and that’s great; it’s a wonderful thing — but I also think it’s important as a writer to challenge yourself,” Konoplisky said.

The evening features two one-act plays. “SAL-9000,” loosely inspired by “2001: A Space Odyssey,” is about a woman and her relationship with a sentient washing machine. “Nebraska Rapture” is about a woman who thinks the rapture is near and needs to find someone who can take care of her dog when she leaves. Both shows emphasizes human connection while using absurdist and fantastical elements.

“The frailties that we all have as human beings, the sort of broken spots that we all harbor, I’m interested in that­ — to see what those places are and what they look like and sounds like when people face challenges and things they have to overcome,” Konoplisky said.

Konoplisky will be in attendance at Saturday’s performance and will participate in a talk back session immediately following the show.

Konoplisky, who is from Pennsylvania, resides in Wisconsin, where she teaches acting. She got involved in playwriting when she entered a contest for a festival on whim and got in.

“I think something about my first efforts having that kind of impact and the fact I was successful at that first moment sort of gave me the sense of, ‘I need to do this,’” Konoplisky said.

Konoplisky said writing plays makes her a more developed and well-rounded as a theater artist.

Jeff Croff, Ixion Theatre artistic director and director of the plays, came up with “Askew Askance A Squirrel!,” incorporating the absurdity of Konoplisky’s play and her use of animals. As for the Ixion Theatre performances, Konoplisky is glad her work is in the hands of a director she can trust.

“It makes me feel great that someone is putting this kind of attention to these scripts and really bringing them to life,” Konoplisky said. “To have it be with Jeff (Croff) and in Lansing, where I’ve had nothing but great experiences, to me, it just felt like the right way to do it.”

“Askew Askance A Squirrel!: An Evening in Lisa Konoplisky's World”

Ixion Theatre

8 p.m. Saturday March 25 and 7 p.m. Sunday March 26


The Robin Theatre

1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

(517) 775-4246,