Last night Linda and I attended an excellent interactive set of one-act plays in S. Pasadena. It was a benefit performance for Wellness Works, a non-profit community resource (in Glendale, CA) that provides holistic health education and treatments for healing in an atmosphere of compassion and joy – where my mother is a board member.
One reviewer proclaimed Inside Private Lives, “Great theater, fun improv, and a history lesson rolled into one.” I wholeheartedly agree…
Inside Private Lives was performed at the Freemont Centre Theater, a 75-seat intimate theater with a comfortable courtyard to gather beforehand, at intermission, as well as afterwards to converse with the actors. The play, also performed in NYC and Edinburgh, is a look back in time to imaginary moments to engage the controversy that enveloped in real life 20th century figures. Last night’s line-up included six separate characters and scenes:
- Christine Jorgensen who was the first widely known American to transform from male to female. The setting was the Playboy Mansion in Chicago were we, the audience, became the editorial panel that would determine if her nude pictorial should run in the magazine.
- Jane Roberts who was an American author, poet, and medium whose many books reflect her channeling an entity named “Seth.” The audience became, if I’m remembering correctly, a grand jury assembled to determine if Jane Roberts had any legal complicity in the apparent suicide of a teenage “client.” Seth spoke in Jane’s defense.
- John Dillinger, a notorious bank robber who became a “celebrity” criminal who was idolized by many as a present-day Robin Hood. The audience became inadvertent captives and Dillinger attempted to talk us into a mass exit of the building (with police armed and waiting) so he could escape as one of us.
- Ann Landers, syndicated advice columnist, who was attempting to talk a local newspaper into continuing to run her advice column instead of switching to her sister’s — Dear Abby.
- Elia Kazan, a multiple Tony and Academy Award-winning director, was defending his sell-out of former communist sympathizers during the McCarthy Era in order to preserve his career.
- Aimee Semple McPherson, a highly influential charismatic evangelist/pastor (and founder the Foursquare Denomination) of the 1920’s was defending her claim that she was kidnapped at Venice Beach, held hostage in a shack in Mexico, escaped, and walked several miles into New Mexico. It was initially thought that she had drowned at Venice Beach and a huge “manhunt” ensued. Two of the searchers died looking for Aimee and she was reportedly seen shacking up with a married lover at a resort in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The audience became a group of Los Angeles political dignitaries that Aimee attempted to persuade into appearing at a news conference with her in an attempt to pressure the city into dropping the legal inquiry.
If you go, and I hope you do, look online to see which historical figures will be portrayed and then read-up on them so that you can interact constructively at the play.