Drenching rain pummels Nimipuu County as Helen, an idealistic middle-aged American History educator, sits alone in her kitchen recovering from a double mastectomy and looking at a pile of bills and an employment termination letter. What makes more sense than suicide? Newly retired social worker and rookie crisis hotline volunteer, AJ sits alone in the office desperate to save Helen from herself. As Helen slips between the worlds after eating a huge assortment of pills, Elizabeth “Betsy” Pennington greets Helen and takes her on a journey designed to convince her to return and invent a new kind of educational model. Pineapple and Other Options braids the stories of three women into a – literally – constructive theatrical experience.
Jeanmarie Simpson (Playwright, Director) wrote and performed hundreds of times (including a run Off-Broadway) the play A Single Woman, about the life of first US Congresswoman and lifelong pacifist Jeannette Rankin. She also starred in the film version that featured Judd Nelson, the voices of Martin Sheen, Karen Black, Margot Kidder, Chandra Wilson, Frances Fisher, Peter Coyote, Elizabeth Peña, and Patricia Arquette, and the music of Joni Mitchell. The play, A Single Woman, received the Best Theatrical Surprise award from the Sacramento News and Review in 2005. In 2007, she appeared at the historic Beverly Hills Theatre 40 in the American premiere of the solo tour-de-force Shakespeare’s Will, directed by Leonard Nimoy. Jeanmarie toured the world with Coming In Hot, which she co-adapted and in which she played 19 American women who had served in the military from the Viet Nam era to Iraq-Afghanistan. She was commissioned by the Be the Change Project to create a piece based on interviews with Dreamers and Liberty’s Children premiered at the Potentialist Workshop in Reno in 2014. She toured the world again with her original solo performance work, Heretic – the Mary Dyer story, from 2011-2019. Her plays Pineapple and Other Options and The Jewish Question were presented worldwide via Zoom in 2020. In 2021, her plays Bambino Mio – Bright Little Flame
and When Churchyards Yawn are having public readings, both in the US and Canada. She is the founding artistic director of Universal Access Productions/Arizona Theatre Matters, in residence at The Potentialist Workshop in Reno, where her new play Epiphany 1914 will play December 16-19, and for ARTOWN 2022 When Churchyards Yawn will play the entire month of July. She has been an artist-in-residence for the Nevada Arts Council since 1984 and is a 4-time Sierra Arts Foundation Artist Grant recipient. Jeanmarie is a retired member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA and continues to be a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographer’s Society and the Dramatists Guild.
Dori Owen (Designer) is a storyteller and artist from small town Arizona. She is a shown artist with her work featured in Nevada galleries including juried work at Sierra Arts Foundation; managed the Wingfield Park Amphitheater 1994-1999; worked as a muralist; a graphic designer, and founded Art & Rubbish, a Reno retailer showcasing local artists including her own upcycled furniture pieces. A columnist with Feminine Collective, her essays have been featured in FeminineCollective’s RAW&UNFILTERED VOL I, The Good Men Project, The Lithium Chronicles, StigmaFighters, OTVMagazine.com, The Mighty, and the YANYR Anthology. Her poetry is featured in Feminine Collective’s anthology, “Love Notes From Humanity, The Lust, Love & Lost Collection,” and on the literary mag Sudden Denouement.
Kate Rhoswen (Helen) is thrilled to be making her Phoenix debut with Arizona Theatre Matters for the world premier of Pineapple and Other Options. A diverse performer, Kate has worked extensively in theatre and independent film in Northern Nevada for over 15 years. Select credits include: Cheryl in Evil Dead: The Musical!, Chicklet in Psycho Beach Party, Margot in Shiner, Heads in Ubu the King, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Detective Morris in The Nether, Kent in King Lear, Viola in Twelfth Night, Abby Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace, Malcolm in Macbeth, Annabel in The 5th Wind, Jackie O in The House of Yes, Ariel in The Tempest, Greta in The Charm of Preparedness, Beatrice and Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, the McShane Sextuplets in Wonder of the World, Mistress Revels in Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Annabel Lee and Morella in Poe & Pints, Popo in Clown Bar, Marks in Talking With…., and Jan in Cahoots. Kate is a member of Actors Equity Association.
Born in Phoenix, RC Contreras (AJ) moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, performing at the World Famous Icehouse, Comedy Store and Laugh Factory. Returning to Phoenix, some of her past productions include the character of The Stage Manager in Six Characters in Search of an Author, Angelo in Shakespeare’s
Comedy of Errors and the feisty, 80 year old alcoholic, drug addicted Mabel in Space 55’s A Bloody Mary Christmas. RC is also a playwright and writer of the smash play, Mom and Dad at the Lesbian Bar, which she also performed in at The Pandora Festival at Phoenix College.
Debra Lyman (Betsy) is so happy and thankful to return to the role of Betsy in ATM’s premiere production of Pineapple and Other Options because she has participated in the development of Pineapple for the last two years. Debra has appeared in various productions throughout Arizona – most recently in 2021: A Doll’s House Part 2 (AriZoni nominee) and Tea for Three (AriZoni nominee) at Stage Left Theatre. Previous credits also include video productions of Classic Tales of Fright – Darkness by Lord Byron (Blk Box Phx – Davisson) and The Laramie Project (MET & VTL). Previous staged productions: The Last Romance (Stage Left), Tis a Pity (Space 55), Something Wicked (Blk Box Phx – Davisson), Medea (Now and Then), Whisper Sweetly (Brelby), John (Stray Cat) – AriZoni Award recipient, Death Trap (MET), Manifesto of a Militant (Outloud 2016), Julius Caesar (Class 6), and 5-time participant in 24 Hour Project at Phoenix Theatre.
Lorraine Taylor (Jan) has been acting for over 25 years. She started in Tucson and is a member of Seek First Entertainment, with whom she traveled to Atlanta and won Best play for Black Women Walking 2019. She has worked with theatres including Brelby, Stage Left Productions, EM Productions and B3. She appeared in the past couple of years in many virtual performances. She looks forward to many more years of portraying different characters, and to have the opportunity to work with Jeanmarie and the other actors in this production of Pineapple is very exciting. She thanks Jeanmarie for the opportunity.