2019 was a good year for acting. The coolest thing was taking part in a web series called “Black on Both Sides.” You can find it here.
I’m seen briefly in Episode 2 (uncredited, but I’m the person taking notes while standing next to the CEO — played by my friend Scott Piehler — in a meeting). I’m also seen (mostly from the back) at a party in Episode 7, and I even have one line! Woo! Okay, what all that means is don’t watch this show looking for me; watch it because it’s good, and my brief appearance is a bonus. 🙂 I hope to work with Alonge again in the future.
Side note: filming that party scene was an adventure. It was done on a Saturday afternoon after I had just gotten out of the hospital, having had surgery five days earlier. Due to a reaction to the pain meds, I kept running off the set to throw up. Every twenty minutes. Between takes and trips to the loo, I laid down on the sofa and tried to nap. God bless Shani Hawes, one of the producers, who made sure I had ice water and a clear path to the bathroom.
Stagewise, I performed in four plays in 2019. I just realized that. Four plays. In one year. No wonder I’m exhausted.
First up was The Vagina Monologues with Bad Seed Theatre (partnered with Out Front Theatre) in February. This was an extremely limited run, three performances, all proceeds of which went to Camp Cadi. We did really well, raising over $7000 in support of their programs. I had the monologue “Hair.”
It was a fabulous experience, being in a show comprised entirely of a cast of women, speaking frankly about our bodies, our lives, and our experiences. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
From TVM with its HUGE cast, I went into a play that was very nearly a one-woman show. Staged Right cast me as the lead in their production of A Round-Heeled Woman, based on the book by Jane Juska about her sexual adventures after posting an ad for, um, companionship in the New York Review of Books. This show starts out with Jane (that is, me) having phone sex and proceeds from there. I went on at the beginning of Act I and never left the set — and nearly never stopped talking — until intermission; lather, rinse, repeat for Act II. The other five actors bopped in and out of the set according to the needs of their multiple characters; and some of the scenes (and much of the dialogue) were rather explicit.
The truth is, if I hadn’t just done The Vagina Monologues and overcome some acting inhibitions that I wasn’t aware I had, I never would have had the gumption to tackle Jane. As it was, the three-page monologues nearly killed me: I was still calling for line on the Wednesday before we opened, but come opening night, we were good. Okay, truth time: I blanked briefly in the middle of Act I on opening night, but muddled through and got myself back on track; and the rest of the performances had no blanks. A few skipped lines, but no blanks! I am forever grateful to director Starshine Stanfield for trusting me with this character.
When Round-Heeled closed in late May, I decided to take the summer off (except for a dance class). Come August, I was ready to go again. Act 3 Productions cast me as Juror 9 in their production of Twelve Angry Jurors.
Let me tell you, after Jane’s line load in A Round-Heeled Woman, I was immensely grateful for the fewer than 50 lines my character required in Jurors. That’s one of the bonuses of large casts and short plays — the speeches are divided among many more characters, making it a little easier on the actors.
And this was a fun cast, too: most of the other actors were in their 20s, far younger than me, and it was sheer joy to spend so much time with people in that age group. I don’t get that opportunity very often. As a group, they had an attitude of wryly cynical hopefulness, an outlook that will likely serve them well in the future. As far as the play went, we had decent audiences and were well-received. I got paid, too. That’s always a bonus.
As soon as Jurors closed, I went right into rehearsal for my final play of the year, 20th Century Blues with Live Arts Theatre. This was my third production with Live Arts, and I’m always happy to work with Becca and the gang.
Much smaller cast, much larger line load, lots of fun. I’ll steal the synopsis from the theatre’s website: “Four women meet once a year for a ritual photo shoot, chronicling their changing (and aging) selves as they navigate love, careers, children, and the complications of history. But when these private photographs threaten to go public, relationships are tested, forcing the women to confront who they are and how they’ll deal with whatever lies ahead.”
I played Sil, a New York real estate agent who is reluctant to have photographs showing “forty years of her gradual decline” exhibited publicly. This was another show where the cast was primarily women — all of us playing someone very close to our own age, for once, and discussing issues we actually related to in our personal lives. Kind of cathartic, in a lot of ways. It was a good show that, due to its timing, didn’t get seen by too many people. Unfortunately, we were competing with all the Christmas-themed shows, like It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, that were being presented at many of the area theatres; 20th Century Blues was most definitely not a Christmas show. But the people who did see it really liked it. We closed the Saturday before Christmas. (And I got paid again, hurrah!)
I don’t know what show I’m doing next. I have a couple of auditions coming up this month; and expect more to be scheduled soon as theatres start casting their spring shows. I doubt I’ll do four shows this year; but I didn’t plan to do that last year: it just worked out that way. We’ll see what shows up in the audition notices. I’ll keep you posted.