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One-Woman Show YOU IN MIDAIR to Debut in Portland

One-Woman Show YOU IN MIDAIR to Debut in Portland

Writer, teacher, therapist, lobbyist and actor Danna Schaeffer will present her one-woman show, You in Midair, from October 5 through 15, at New Expressive Works. You in Midair is directed by Julie Akers. Previously titled My Little Jezebel, this full production follows a January 2017 staged reading with PDX Playwrights in the Fertile Ground Festival New Works.

On July 18, 1989, Danna Schaeffer received the worst news a parent can hear: a phone call from a stranger telling her that her only child has been murdered. Rebecca Schaeffer, a young Hollywood star headed for a successful career in television and film, had been shot on her doorstep. In the years that followed, her parents endured the murder trial and then channeled their grief into social action. You in Midair is an intimate, harrowing, sometimes funny and ultimately joyful story that examines the searing pain of loss, the consolation of memory and the triumph of hard-won wisdom.

"I'm doing this show because the time had come for me to tell Rebecca's story from my perspective," said Danna Schaeffer. "I am acutely aware of the universe of tragedy and loss we witness and read about every day. This is but one of those stories."

Shawn Levy, author of Dolce Vita Confidential, said, "You in Midair combines horror, pathos and comedy in ways you've never seen before. You will laugh and you will cry, often at the same time."

"Danna Schaeffer's performance is extraordinary, at once tragic, smart, and just flat out entertaining. And throughout, of course, you wonder how this woman has not simply survived the loss of her beloved child, but has also managed to thrive," said Karen Karbo, author of The Stuff of Life.

Benson, Danna and Rebecca Schaeffer were a tight-knit family whose last words to each other on the evening of July 17, 1989were: "I love you." In 1989, 21-year-old Rebecca was a working actor in Hollywood. Slated to audition for The Godfather: Part III on the morning of July 18, she was expecting a courier with the script when she heard the door bell ring at her apartment in Los Angeles. When she answered the door, a stranger stepped from the bushes and shot her point-blank in the heart. She died 30 minutes later.

Her parents, Benson and Danna, lived through the murderer's trial. They grew to understand that an obsessed fan had paid a private investigator to find Rebecca's home address in Los Angeles through the DMV, after which he then stalked Rebecca for months. After her murder, privacy laws were tightened and stalking laws were enacted. The idea of "threat management" became a common Hollywood concern. Danna emerged as an outspoken activist and lobbyist for reasonable firearm legislation, and co-founded Oregonians Against Gun Violence which was later absorbed into what is now Ceasefire Oregon.

DATES: October 5 - 15, 2017

VENUE: New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St., Portland

TIMES: 7:30pm - Thurs, Fri, Sat (10/5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14)

2pm - Sunday (10/8, 15)

TICKETS: $30 general, $35 door | 1-800-838-3006


Danna grew up in Los Angeles, Baltimore, and New York City. She married psychologist Benson Schaeffer and had her daughter Rebecca in 1967. Danna received an MA and MFA from the University of Oregon and the family moved to Portland where Danna taught English and writing at Portland area colleges and universities. She published short stories, poems, articles and reviews, and her play City Women which premiered in 1988 and earned the Kennedy Center's American College Theater Festival Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. After Rebecca's death, Danna spent two years lobbying for reasonable gun laws and continued writing plays. In 1997, Danna and her brother Adam created the audio website BookRadio. She created the online fortune-telling avatar Madame Olivia, who dispenses advice to this day. Danna earned an MA in Counseling Psychology in 2003 and was in private practice in downtown Portland until 2013. In December, 2013 she closed her practice to focus on her longtime passion for writing and wrote a mystery, Death Never Dies, and a memoir, Kissing Upside Down. Her play, You in Midair, is a solo performance about her surviving the loss of Rebecca.

Rebecca was born in Eugene, Oregon and grew up in Portland where she went to Lincoln High School and was elected president of her youth group at Temple Beth Israel. She modeled in New York the summer after the 11th grade and began getting acting jobs. She landed a co-starring role in the ensemble sitcom My Sister Sam and moved to Los Angeles where the show enjoyed a two-year run. Rebecca's career took her to movies like Radio Days and Scenes from the Class Struggle of Beverly Hills. She was murdered on July 18, 1989.

Photo by Owen Carey

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