“Talking with…”: When women bare their souls on stage
by Lila Ghobady
“Let them mark you. The best among us have had so many imprints left upon them that it is like embroidery.” “Marks” acted by Kit Breckenridge
Talking With… is a series of monologues by 11 women written by award-winning and Pulitzer-nominated Kentucky playwright mysterious Jane Martin. First performed in 1982, it is now being shown at the Long Beach Playhouse for the first time. Ten local actresses play the brilliantly written female characters in Talking With…
The first character is an actress preparing to go onstage, performed by comedian Teresa Ganzel. The other nine women present a series of moving monologues, their life changing experiences from the commercialization of rodeo to the death of one’s mother:
“Study French. She said she had made a pledge to herself years ago that she would die bilingual. Dad and I cried a lot, but she didn’t.”
“Clear Glass Marbles” performed by Afsaneh Hamedani
“Dear St. Margaret, patron saint of childbirth, let me live, let my child live, and enough with the labor OK? I thought after 23 hours of this they either had to give you a C-section or a hairdresser.”
“Dragons” performed by Geraldine Uy
Shirley Marchant’s remarkable portrayal of an old homeless woman who spends her days in McDonald’s is one of the best performances in the show. She smartly references current day-issues by adding the sign “The 99%” on her shopping cart. This serves to add a deeper layer of irony to her character, whose idea of heaven on earth is McDonald’s and strongly believes that plastic is the most important thing that God has ever created.
CaroleAnne Johnson’s washed-up rodeo rider was also one of the memorable character. She is frustrated by the dominance of commercialism in America, “In a society that takes whatever you love and sells it back to you… Now they bought the rodeo. Them. Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Marlboro damn cigarettes. . . . Hell, tobacco wasn’t made to smoke, honey, it was made to chew. Lord wanted ya filled up with smoke he would have set ya on fire. . . . “
The production is by The Long Beach Repertory Theater in association with The Long Beach Playhouse. It is directed by the award-winning actor, screenwriter, director and New York art graduate, Fredrick Ponzlov, who currently is residing as the Artistic Director of the Long Beach Repertory Theater. Ponzlov explains about his reasons behind directing the play: “I was thoroughly taken with Talking With…. from the first monologue I read. So few plays offer the incredible variety and depth of women’s roles that exist in this one theatrical event. Complex, amusing, and disturbing aspects of all these women exist in all of us. And their plights, dreams and experience touch our own humanity…”
After all, as snake handler character believes:
“If you got the spirit, snake don’t bite. If he bites you, you know you ain’t got the spirit.”
Talking With… has a spirit and it is in Long Beach. The performance of these ten strong women should not be missed…
Talking With… opened on November 11th at Long Beach Play House and runs through Dec 4th.