Monday, March 04, 2013

Intimate Apparel: Apparently I'm In It

I saw an acquaintance in the lobby after my performance in Intimate Apparel on opening night.  We made small talk and then he asked, so what are you working on right now?  Um... Intimate Apparel, I replied... I play Mrs. VanBuren.

He was shocked and obviously hadn't recognized me.  But neither did the director's boyfriend when we were introduced.  I had to explain that the reason I was wearing so much makeup isn't because I live in Dallas, but rather in the theatre, and yes, I was in Intimate Apparel.

So if you venture onto UT's campus and wander into the Winship Building and find your way to the Oscar Brockett Theatre, open your program, read the cast of characters, and look for the white lady onstage: that's me.

Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage is a contemporary piece written about an African American seamstress in 1905 who sews intimate apparel for both the wealthy women of New York and the ladies of the night.

"What are you?" my work colleague asked when I told her about the show, "The token white lady?"

"Well, yes. Yes I am."

I'm also the only non-MFA student in the show.  Other than the director, Melissa Maxwell whom UT flew in from New York to direct the show, I'm the only non-UT-er.  Sic 'em bears?

The MFA students in this show were all in Ragtime with me at Zach Scott, and at some point during the run, one of them had the brilliant idea that I should play the 30-something, rich white woman in their final show before graduation, as they were lacking in that category and the department had planned on auditioning undergrads.  Brilliant!

After several emails with department heads, and an audition for the direction whom I'd actually just met the month before at the African American and Latino Playwright Conference at Texas State (Yes, I heard Douglas Turner Ward speak that night!), I was cast.

Token White Woman.  I'm on it.

Actually my character is quite rich, and I'm not just talking financially.  The role is juicy and not just cause they've strapped some fake hips to my sides to enhance my figure.  But to avoid a spoiler, I'm not revealing anymore.

Suffice it to say, I help Esther, the seamstress, write letters...

Photo: Josh Rasmussen, Courtesy of The University of Texas at Austin

It's a wig, but still.  Amaze balls.  If I had been fitted out in a wig like that for Ragtime, maybe I could have convinced Coalhouse not to go after those firemen... Then again, maybe not.  I'm not sure Token White Women ensemble members have much power over the plot line.

If you're interested, here's an interview with our director, Melissa Maxwell, and the lead, Mykal Monroe, who plays Esther.

After our first weekend, we received a review by the The Daily Texan (it's a little biased - its a UT newspaper), and if you want to go into the show with a blank slate, there are some subtle spoilers in that article.  And here's an article on Self-Discovery Coming to the Stage.  You can also sneak a peek at the cast on tumblr if you want.

And for you John Aielli lovers out there, here's this interview on KUT's Eklektikos:

Anyway, there are LIMITED performances of this show.  Two weekends only and one's already over! Catch it Wednesday thru Saturday this week only, March 6th-9th at 8pm.  Get tickets here, and get 'em fast.  This is a small black box, there's only so many people they can cram in.  Otherwise the intimacy gets a little, well, you know, intimate.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very compelling....don't miss it - rp