by Ramona Pilar Gonzales
Mention the term PMS (premenstrual syndrome) in general company and it can conjure images of emotionally volatile women, violent mood swings, rage to sorrow in 5 seconds flat, glass-breaking screeches or gluttonous confection consumptions – every caricatured characteristic that comprises the Woman on the Verge archetype.
Mention PMS in or around LA’s Eastside community and it conjures the image of, well, basically the same thing, but on stage and in the name of Comedy.
The P.M.S in question is not a syndrome but a sketch comedy group – The Pinche Mentirosa Sisters – founded by writer/activist Josefina Lopez (Real Women Have Curves), Monica Martinez and Miriam Peniche in 1998. According to writer/activist/chingona Lopez, the group was created to fill an artistic void, “We got along very well and realized that as plump Latinas we were not going to get our dream roles, so we decided to create fun roles for ourselves [so] we could [play] whatever parts we wanted.”
Martha y Marta:
The group has had a few incarnations since its first show in 1999. P.M.S was formed as a trio, but grew to troupe status during the early 2000’s – maxing out at almost 10 performers at one point. The group went dormant for a few years and returned as a trio in 2009. In its current manifestation, P.M.S. has rounded out to a healthy four members – founding member Miriam Peniche, April Ibarra, Blanca M. Melchor and Margie Gutierrez Lara. Cast changes and hibernation aside, P.M.S. has always been about having fun onstage, which is the most essential ingredient to ensuring a supreme audience experience.
The ladies tackle all variety of topics, “anything from dating, booty calls, and STD’s. Why? Because it’s stuff that people are not talking about, and women enjoy laughing about these topics,” says performer, writer, and co-producer Miriam Peniche. “[We] can be wild, crazy, and sometimes ‘out there.’ Our comedy is simple and in your face. Our followers know that when they come to see our shows, they are guaranteed a good time.”
With their current show, Girls Night Out, the ladies of the night use their vast anthropological experience to deconstruct the mating culture and rituals inherent in contemporary nocturnal Los Angeles living, or, as the back of the flier says, “It’s a dance club… It’s a show… It’s a wild, girls night out of LOL OMG comedy where anything can happen!”
Lopez, the head writer of the group, has taken to the stage herself in the past two productions. This time around she is stepping out of the footlights, “I’m more interested in writing sketches and letting the younger women express their point of view.” All four performers have previously contributed to developing sketches. With Girls Night Out they have taken on developing more of the show’s content. The show also has the added comedic girth of guest writers Miguel Garcia Ortega and Gabriela Tagliavini and a special appearance by actor Jeremy Mascia.
And in the spirit of Lopez’s DIY, “Yes! You Too Can Be a Chingona”* philosophy, founder, performer and sketch writer Miriam Peniche has added Head Producer to her growing list of titles. Girls Night Out is the first P.M.S show to be produced by The Girls Productions, a production company founded by Gabriela Lopez de Dennis and Peniche in 2008. “Miriam and I thought we made a great team and were on the same page about a lot of things… So it just made sense to make a business out of our passions–theater, performance, entertaining people, putting on a good show and throwing a damn good party–so we decided to go for it when we were working on her solo show “Faking It”
Female founders, women writers, lady performers, chick producers – make no mistake, this production is well stewed in estrogen. Enter Longtime P.M.S director and Casa 0101 Associate Artistic Director Hector Rodriguez. Director of the past two P.M.S. shows – Deaf, Dumb and Blind Dating and Kiss My Mistletoe, Rodriguez brings his own quiet, yet fearsome presence into the mix. He is P.M.S.’s very own Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. Add to that guest writer Ortega and token male actor Mascia, and the ratio of ladies to gents lands at 5:3, for anyone keeping track at home.
P.M.S in Girls Night Out opens Friday, March 9, 2012 at Casa 0101 Theater in the Boyle Heights Arts District of Los Angeles. The show will run through Women’s History Month (March) and close April 1, 2012. The opening night soiree features Los DJs, special performance by Candyboy lead singer Mari Y., and basically, a big ole club-style party.
For Tickets: (323) 263-7684, email firstname.lastname@example.org
* “Yes! You Too can be a Chingona” was a book Lopez self-published in the early 2000’s. You know, before everyone else was doing it.
Ramona Pilar Gonzales is a writer/performer and native Californian. Her prose has been published in LatinoLA, CreepyLA, TheRevista Magazine, the Highland Park News and more. She has also written and produced several short plays and films. Her dramatizad essay, Del Plato a la Boca, El Ritmo te Toca, received a grant from La Plaza de Cultura y Artes Foundation. She is a founding memeber of the theater performance group Tongue in Chíc*ana. She has performed with the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, Casa 0101, Cornerstone Theater Company, the Denver Center Theater, and East Los Angeles Repertory Theater Company. Ramona has a B.A. in Film and Cultural Representation from UC Davis and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is currently an editor and contributor for TheRevista Magazine, CNFNation , AnnotationNation, and Social Media Manager for The Roots and Wings Project.