‘The Antelope Party’ pits ponies against Trump-era politics


Mackenzie Crosson

“The Antelope Party” will run until Feb. 24 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., and tells the story of  a small group of adult “My Little Pony” fans in the midst of violence and growing authoritarianism in their small town. 

By Mayan Darbyshire

Bronies take center stage in Eric John Meyer’s “The Antelope Party,” a play that looks at authoritarian politics through the eyes of adult fans of “My Little Pony.”

The play, which opened Jan. 19 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., will run until Feb. 24. It features the Rust Belt Ponies Meet-up Group, a small collective of adult “My Little Pony” fans, or Bronies, living in a small town in  Western Pennsylvania.

The performing company, Theater Wit, was founded in 2004 and specializes in “smart art,” according to its website.

Theater Wit “has always [wanted] to entertain as well as educate,” Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler said. 

Wechsler said he was attracted to “The Antelope Party” because of Meyer’s perspective on how pop culture can influence politics and public behavior. 

Meyer told the Chronicle he had been researching Bronies since the presidential campaign when the news featured violence, anger and mob-like behavior at President Donald Trump’s rallies. Meyer said this news caused him to consider how cosplay fans and authoritarian groups intersect and how they differ, which became the basis of his play.

“They both say, ‘We will let you escape the problems of your normal life by giving you a heroic identity and an alternative universe,’” Meyer said. “The difference is cosplay admits that it’s fake.” 

The adult “My Little Pony” fanbase exists throughout the internet, allowing for fellow Bronies and Pegasisters, the female “My Little Pony” fans as referred to in the play, to connect despite geographical barriers, helping them avoid potential stigma. 

 Casting Director Clare Cooney said she wanted to avoid making a joke out of the Bronies by choosing relatable actors rather than extreme fan types. 

“We cast people that were very earnest and sincere and true to life in their approach with these characters,” Cooney said. “It felt grounded in reality and like we weren’t mocking the characters but actually portraying these people.” 

Apart from a few documentaries, most notably a 2012 Netflix documentary titled “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony,” the fan group continues to be underrepresented in pop culture, according to research on subcultures and sociology written by Max Tetrick and published by Grinnell College. 

“The real virtue of attacking this problem [of authoritarianism] through the lens of fans of ‘My Little Pony’ is that it is not a problem anyone has considered,” Wechsler said. “When you come to the theater, you want to come and see something new, a new perspective.”