Two women, two personal shows
Common Ground Theatre will present two works-in-progress solo performances by two Triangle actresses tonight and Saturday. Both are based on personal experiences on two very different topics. Katja Hill presents her solo work, “Debris,” and Lormarev Jones presents her solo work, “The Virgin Cookbook.”
Hill’s work-in-progress is based on experiencing the loss of her second parent and cleaning out the house. Her dad died in 2004, and her mom died in 2011 on a trip to her Finland homeland. Her mom worked for years at the Walmart in Sylva, N.C.
“The adventure of the story is dealing with legal challenges of someone dying abroad. It seems like the feel-bad hit of the summer,” Hill said. “It’s best described as laughter through tears. My mom was a funny, funny broad. My dad was funny, too.”
Hill’s performance also touches on her mom’s last years as a cancer patient, and the resulting frustrations. The “Debris” is in taking apart someone else’s life, and going through the house and what’s inside it.
“There’s garbage. There’s canned food to donate. And there’s all this in-between stuff – debris – that’s not exactly trash, but, as they say in my small town, ‘not fit to give,’” Hill said. Like a salt shaker that still has salt in it, she said. Do you take the time to empty the salt and donate the shaker?
“Debris” is a catch-all for stuff, for memories and also processing a loss, Hill said.
Hill’s previous one-woman show, “Cornucopia of Me,” had to do with her jobs in customer service. She dressed as a mime for the 42-minute piece. In “Debris,” she speaks directly to the audience.
“This is much more spare. I had a hard time going forward with it because I miss my parents so much, that this [performance] isn’t big enough to share their story,” Hill said. She thought about using film and photographs, but set those aside to focus on the universal experience of loss.
“People are gone. Survivors are left to tell the story,” Hill said. “It’s an open-ended offer to the audience, daring to think about what we’re doing with the legacy of someone we love.”
The other show in “Rough Draft: A Night of New Solos,” divided by intermission, is Jones’ work, “The Virgin Cookbook.”
She has worked on it as a master of fine arts student at Sarah Lawrence College, a program she entered mainly because of a class on playwriting for solo performance. The show is about a self-proclaimed 30-year-old virgin facing a world that wants her to give it up, and listening to her grandfather’s advice.
“A lot of it is pulled from actual life experiences,” Jones said, and conversations she has had over the past 10 years, “once I got in my late 20s and hadn’t gotten married, had kids, or had sex.”
Jones is 30, and revealing herself in the show – and mentions of it online – is still sinking in.
“The Internet is forever, and now people will search my name and one of the words that comes up with be ‘virgin,’” Jones said. But she has always been in awe of solo performance, memorizing one by Whoopi Goldberg.
“I didn’t know it would turn into a show about my sexuality – I play a hyperbolized version of myself, and my grandfather,” she said.
Her grandfather, who died when she was 25, was a beacon of knowledge and advice, she said.
“He had very strong opinions about marriage and relationships. He said, ‘Don’t get married unless you have to.’ I still don’t know what he meant,” Jones said. “The reason I haven’t rushed into sexual relationships is because he said, ‘Do it if you want to, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.’”
Jones said some of her grandfather’s opinions have become her opinions, too.
Hill said “Rough Draft” is a good over-arching title for her and Jones’ works, as they are risking new works in development. It’s material worth exploring, Hill said.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: “Rough Draft: A Nigh of New Solos”
WHERE: Common Ground Theatre,
4815B Hillsborough Road, Durham
WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday
INFO: 919-698-3870 or Rachel@cgtheatre.com