BWW Previews: THE MANIC MONOLOGUES at Open Door Rep: A Production I Wont Soon Forget
Over the last year, thanks to Broadwayworld, I have had the opportunity to attend shows in multiple theaters in Des Moines and the surrounding communities. With only one writer currently for Broadwayworld Des Moines, I've found myself in a predicament. I auditioned and ended up cast in a show. Before I get too far, I need to say I wanted to audition for and wanted to be part of his show. The puzzle is how do I give a show coverage when I'm involved in it. I can't do a review for multiple reasons. I can't review my work, and it would be awkward to discuss my fellow cast members. As I pondered options, there was one that seemed to stick. I may not be able to tell you how good the show is without you thinking my opinion is biased, but I can tell you the reasons why I think you should go and see this production.
The production I'm so excited to be participating in is called "The Manic Monologues" by Zack Burton and Elisa Hofmeister. Open Door Rep is producing this production. Not only is this production making its Iowa debut, but Des Moines is fortunate enough to have the second production of the show. "The Manic Monologues" is a series of monologues, each a true story that explores different perspectives of mental illness. Some of them are people that are dealing with mental illness, and others are people who have friends or family members with them.
What made me want to audition for this show? I have friends and family members that deal first hand with mental illnesses. I've seen how it has impacted them, and am so lucky that they have been open about their diseases and the effects it has. So for me, auditioning allowed me to share how important it is to have a dialogue about them. It also would allow me to reconnect with someone I had worked with before. In college, I had the opportunity to be involved with the Pella Shakespeare Festival for two summers, where I had the honor of being on stage with Susie Irish, who is directing "The Manic Monologues." While I have seen some of her other theatre endeavors, I've not had a chance to work with her since then and was excited that there was an opportunity that would potentially allow it.
There are so many things I love about getting to be part of this show. One is the sense of community there is through each aspect of the show. This sense of community was evident from the first rehearsal. As we went around the room and introduced ourselves, one of the things I noticed is that there were people who have participated in shows with almost every theatre company that falls under the Des Moines theatre scene. I found this to be so fitting for the show, as many types of illnesses fall under the umbrella of mental illness.
Over the last few weeks, when talking about the show, I've found myself telling people how amazing and unique this experience has been. I think that has come from the approach this has taken. No one in the show is doing this to put on a play about mental illness. Everyone is doing it to tell this story. One of the things I've loved about the script is that with many of these monologues, you don't get the full story. Yet every time we get together one on one with the director, or as a group at rehearsals, we uncover new things about these characters. And there may be somethings we discover about these characters we have developed after the show is over, and that is OK. I find it fitting as there is so much we are still learning about mental illnesses as a society.
As we get ready to start tech week for "The Manic Monologues," I am filled with anticipation and excitement for people to see the fantastic work each person has put into this show. The countless hours of work everyone has been putting into this show will finally have an audience. While this show is going to be one that is hard to say goodbye to, the work will still be ongoing. There is more to learn about and discuss when it comes to mental illness, but for me, this show has made it easier to have conversations about it. With mental illness being in my family, I have had a fear that someday I may get a diagnosis saying that I have a mental illness. By being able to hear and talk about it, this show has allowed that fear not to be as intense. If I do get diagnosed, to paraphrase one of the characters, I'll still be me.
"The Manic Monologues" opens this Friday for three performances. Performances November 15 and 16 at 8:00 PM, and November 17 at 2:00 PM at Franklin Jr. High in Des Moines. This show will be performed in one act. Tickets are $12.00 and all proceeds from the show will be donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Seating is limited for each performance, so I strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance. You can buy tickets by visiting http://www.opendoorrep.com/tickets
Preview written by DC Felton
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