Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Am An Actress…A Passion Play—Multnomah Arts Center—SW Portland

A Passion For Life

This one-woman show is part of the Fertile Ground Festival and is written by and starring Jane Comer and directed by Melanie Moseley.  A couple other theatre names I recognize from this production are Debbie Blake, an actress, as the stage manager and Kate Mura, actress, as the production consultant.  Many of the people from this production went to UO and were in theatre together there.  The show only has one more performance left at 2 pm on Saturday, January 28th.  For more information, go to her website at www.janeactress.com

People who have the talent for acting are born that way.  You can’t teach “talent,” you either got it or you don’t.  You can teach the “craft” of acting/writing but not the natural artist who creates it--that flows from within.  That person is often directed by a Muse, or guiding spirit, who can be very demanding/draining on your time.  Art is a cruel mistress, for Art, if it finds you worthy, will guide your course.  If so, pray that you have the stamina and passion for it, for the path is long and frought with daggers but the true artist will stay the course.  In my opinion, Comer has that gift!

The show is sprinkled with photos, films, music (“The Entertainer” and “Sentimental Journey”) and ghostly voices, all adding to the early years of one, Jane Comer, passionate actress.  Blake introduces the artist explaining that “the world is made up of many colors,” and the artist seems to run the gamut of that spectrum.  We are, in part, formed by the experiences we’ve had in life and the people (relatives/teachers/friends) who have influenced us--in her case, a grandmother who worked in a house of ill-repute and a mother who gave her hope.

Being raised in a rural environment must have provided the alone time needed for the artist in her to ferment and, when exposed to the community of education, she blossomed into declaring “I am an actress!” not necessarily a declaration that would win friends among the lemmings in her school but, by being willing to set herself apart from the established order, showed the courage and passion needed to be the artist she believed she was.  And, in time, teachers were to encourage her in this pursuit.  An identity was forming but it can be a rocky and somewhat lonely road because the Society, as a whole, does not regard the Arts with much value.

But Passion will out and, although there were some major stumbles in her life, she always managed to pull herself up and, most importantly, never gave up hope.  I know I did not go into many details of her story (as my own Muse has its own way of presenting material, as well) as I believe one should hear it from her own words, as she tells it much better than I could.  I have only endeavored to give you a flavor of her tale and the impressions that I gleaned from it.  Perhaps the reaction that was most telling was from a mother in the audience, who had brought her child, who she said would become fidgety after the first few minutes of watching a presentation of any kind.  She said her child was in rapt attention for the entire 45 minutes of Comer’s show!  Recommendations don’t get any more honest than that, folks.

Comer has also written some books for Youth, which are sold through Amazon, a list can be found on her website, I’m sure, or look her up by her name.  Another thought that my friend Chris brought up is, that this would make a perfect play to be presented in schools, as many Youth could identify with the struggles with identity and being an artist.  I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.