Monday, April 3, 2017

One Woman Shows

My personal March Madness (where we see a bunch of plays in only 30 days) included seeing two one women shows. Both were excellent. It is amazing how with only one person, and a minimal set (in one case only a chair) the actress can convey a bunch of different characters and settings.

By the way, one of my favorite things to hear when I am in a theater is "there will be a talk back after the show."

The first was Nimisha Ladva's story of her own life as an undocumented illegal alien -- a topic that was not nearly as in the political spotlight when she started writing it two years ago as it is today. Nimisha is an award winning storyteller -- and it shows. Her show is titled "Undocumented girl: an immigrant story."

Basically Nimisha and her family moved to the United States from England when she was a pre-teen. Her father owned a restaurant. He paid taxes for himself and his employees. One day during a routine renewal of their visa they were denied. By this point Nimisha was an honor's student in college, and over 21. Her youngest brother was born in this country, so he could stay. The rest of the family could petition the courts as a family unit, where they had a good chance of being allowed to stay and become US citizens, but her case was not as strong. No explanation was given as to why the family was denied. 

Long story short, the family won. And she won. And they were allowed to stay and become US citizens. At one point she asks where is that "home" she is supposed to return to? England, where they had no family? Kenya, where she was born but did not have roots? India, where she has even less of a connection. The show put a human face on an impossible situation. Nimisha goes through the gamut of emotions to explain her story from when she was a little girl in England being ignored because of her ethnicity to meeting her husband -- a white, Jew to becoming an English professor at Haverford College.
With her stage manager, Chris

Portraying her mother she made the comment "when times changes and they are looking for someone to blame, they will spit on you." After her show there was a talk back and someone specifically asked her about that line. She said the took it out in November when it seemed Hillary Clinton would win the election and felt the line was too harsh. It was put back in following Trump's anti-immigration policies. She said in England the racism was blatant. They were happy to be living in the United States where it wasn't as in your face. Unfortunately she notices that has been changing.

Read a review HERE

The second one woman show was "The Secret Life of Harper Lee" at Kelsey Theatre. The actress, Prudence Wright Holmes, created the solo show after reading Harper Lee's "second" book "Go Set a Watchman," which portrays her father in a more human light. The show focused on her relationship with her neighbor, Truman Capote, and the rift they developed after he stole her research to write a book without acknowledging her. She felt compelled to create a show around her reclusive life.

Since there was a talk back after the show, I wish I read her bio before going to the show (maybe someday I'll learn). Turns out she grew up in Bexley, OH (where my cousins live) and wrote a play about life in Bexley during the Nixon years. Unfortunately I did not find a place to sign up for news about her future performances. I'd live to see her show "Bexley Oh!"

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