So I started writing my one-woman show this week, which is now titled: *Writing With Nancy: Second City Spiritual Epicenter,* instead of just the latter. I would like to have a show with an open-ended run that plays once a week in small venues. So this nomenclature allows me to use the WWN brand yet be able to change the subtitle as time goes by, to reflect whatever content strikes my fancy.
But first a word about the courage to create.
As many of you know, and perhaps as many of you would not care to know, I have been doing battle with menopause for a long while now and I’m losing the war. I’m reminded of the old Linda Ronstadt cover of the Eagles’ song:
Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You been out ridin' fences for so long now
Oh, you're a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow
I admit I thought I could ride menopause out. No pun intended. But recently I hit the proverbial wall: I’m sick and tired or being sick and tired. My stress hormones are off the charts. My skin is blotchy, my nerves are shot and I break out into pouring sweats throughout the day and night. Recently I laid down my weapons and finally decided to go see a doctor about hormone replacement therapy. That’s a big step for me because I don’t tend to go to doctors and I don’t take prescription drugs. I don’t think I’m going to die either. So there’s that.
The courage to create involves the courage to fix what’s broken, even if that means tossing it or replacing it (as in hormones). This is hard to do because it’s painful to admit all the pain you’ve been in and it’s embarrassing to acknowledge how long you’ve been in that pain. So you keep broken watches and you sweat for10 years. I know, it’s insane.
For some reason this Come-to-Jesus moment coincides with writing the one-woman show. The show is a monologue basically that is based on a long-ass essay that I never finished from some book idea I never started. The long-ass essay is about how miserable I was while I was teaching writing. Maybe it won’t sell in Peoria. Anyway the story involves being a washed-up playwright in a bad marriage who starts teaching creative writing in preparation of divorcing my now ex-husband. The essay further chronicles how I continued to expand my creative writing business while I tried to marry the wrong man a second time. Fortunately I got dumped before I could perpetuate more damage. But it takes me 5 years to get to that point of feeling fortunate because I am one of the all-time, most-wounded, stupidest, smart people. So as you can already tell, the show is fascinating.
The hell of solo performance is that it is talky; the heaven is that within the prism of the individual we see myriad characters, images and stories. So somehow I had to figure out how to play a bunch of people. What’s more, many of these people are in classes, groups of 10, or 20. So when I attempted to write out some of those scenes it was overwhelming trying to capture all those reactions and nuances. (Not to mention the ever-nagging doubts of how boring it all was...) So one night I was home alone, drinking, chewing my lips, watching a documentary on Funk on Channel 11. So there was all this great archival footage of the whole scene and everybody had a posse, dressed to kill. So I started thinking about how I might like to have a posse of my own onstage. Yeah, an entourage of hot improv girls could be my back-up. I could put a couch on stage and have them drape themselves on it–a little eye candy for the crowd–while I’m yammering away. Yeah, that seemed like a good idea. And I would of course ask Rebecca Pavlatos to play piano and underscore the show–what the hell, why not have a few songs while we’re at it?
And that my friends is only the beginning. Tba....