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LaTrina Rice and Hollis Hayden Jr. play a New York couple finding their way in the pair's original story 'Karen and Tony: The UnPerfect Couple.' 

Hollis Hayden Jr. and LaTrice Rice, a couple in real life, will show the foibles of a relationship in their new play, "Karen and Tony: The UnPerfect Couple."

Hayden and Rice, his girlfriend of six years, wrote the play together and will premiere it at UpStage theater on Feb. 17. A second performance will follow on Feb. 22.

Hayden, of Hammond, has worked with the theater company's founder and artistic director Ava Brewster Turner in the past and reconnected with her about the play.

But getting to this point hasn't been easy. The couple had moved to New York in hopes of launching careers in the theater.

Hayden took a job teaching physical education at Kipp Amp Charter School in Brooklyn while working with its middle school theater program. He later helped Rice, who comes from Houston, land a job as a teacher in the school's theater program.

"We had a discussion about what we were doing," Hayden said. "The next day, we laughed about it, and I started writing about it. Then I began writing more."

That was last May. Rice joined in the process. It wasn't long before the couple gave their voices to Karen and Tony.

The story looks at challenges Tony and Karen face when they move in together in a small New York apartment.

Karen has an intolerance for more noisy neighbors and Tony's "excessively dramatic" demands. Tony is irritated by Karen's sarcastic opinions and her explosive temper tantrums.

"Working on this together has been a good experience for us," Rice said. "… I feel that it's brought us closer together. The writing and conceptual process is helping us to work together, and we value each other more."


'Karen and Tony: The UnPerfect Couple'

WHEN: 3 p.m. Feb. 17, 7 p.m. Feb. 22.

WHERE: UpStage Theatre, 9401 Cortana Place, Cortana Mall Entrance No. 1.

TICKETS/INFO: $24. (225) 924-3774 or upstagetheatre.biz

Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.