The idea for AJ Clauss’ play Salty came from a story they heard about two male penguins falling in love at a zoo. For the play, Clauss said they wanted to remove a gendered lens from the tale—and include humans as well.

Before we get to Desert Ensemble Theatre’s fantastic production of the show, a brief biology lesson: Penguins mate for life, but they don’t reproduce in the traditional way. Both sexes have orifices called cloacas, which are used to transfer sperm from the male to the female; this process takes about 10 seconds. The male incubates the egg while the female goes to sea to feed, returning weeks later when the egg is about to hatch. Got it? Good.

Salty is set in the future, at one of the last conservation zoos on the planet. Most of the actors play both a zoo employee and a penguin—with great aplomb across the board…”

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