Have you ever realized how much emotion we have tied to pieces of clothing?
I was cast as a lead in Nora and Delia Ephron’s “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” This was my first time being a part of an all-female cast, my first performance in St. Petersburg, Fla., AND my first return to the stage after nearly eight months of cancer treatment.
Oh, and yeah that pandemic thing. This was a COVID-friendly performance where six of us women spent an hour and a half on stage over six feet apart. The show is all monologues, we had mainly virtual rehearsals, and we wore masks in between our individual time in the spotlight. The audience was filled to 25% capacity for the three-week run.
I adored my monologues. I played a Chicago girl (ahem) reliving stimulating memories of her “gang sweater” in high school and a dark-alley sexual encounter with Lemons, “the Warlord of the Latin Chancellors,” a sassy, neurotic New Yorker in a hysterical piece about high heels vs. flats … and divorce.
And my final monologue, a breast cancer survivor who was reliving her mastectomy experience and journey with cancer. Many audience members came up to me after and said that I had made them cry. I’m not sure how much “acting” I had to do in that one, since it was so easy to connect with. The key for that monologue was to stifle that emotion and let it bubble just below the surface until the last line, “You know, when you get diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 years old, no one thinks you’re going to live. But I did!” I aimed to deliver it with all the power of a real-life breast cancer survivor who had, indeed, survived.
The St. Petersburg City Theatre is a magical establishment, and has been running since the 1920s! Coming from Los Angeles, not that our theatre scene is (or was) the tits or anything compared to New York, I wasn’t sure what to expect in Florida. The cast and crew were—dare I say—even more professional than many I have worked with in L.A. through the years. I was thoroughly impressed with the level of talent and commitment. I’m sure this holds true nearly everywhere in the U.S. It just goes to show that you don’t have to go to the west coast to perform, especially these days.
I’m missing Los Angeles, but I had to get out. It wasn’t the place to be for me while I was finishing my treatment. I simply couldn’t be locked down in a small apartment without being able to see family. And those fires. Eek. Not the greatest for a cancer patient with asthma.
There is more space here, I am surrounded by water on this glorious peninsula, and I can breathe fresh air. I will be back when the situation further improves. But for now, I’m 40 minutes away from my mom and I see close family and friends who are visiting from Chicago, my hometown, almost every week.