Has a singular article of clothing from somewhere in your life ever moved you? Maybe it was your prom dress. Your first bra? A black sweater or your favorite t-shirt? It is a universal thread over which women bond: their clothing. Presented for a three-weekend limited engagement, the Arts Collective @ Howard Community College brings a treasured time capsule of women’s life, relationships, and their wardrobe to the stage with Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore. A touching and timeless reading of the play, originally based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, brings 45 of the area’s most talented and influential women together for a heartfelt experience. Directed over the course of three weekend by three separate directors— S. G. Kramer, Darius McKeiver, and Grace Anastasiadis— the performance is an experience that no woman should be without.
Traditionally performed with a small contingency of actors, The Arts Collective Team has taken a more collective approach to the piece. Creating five different casts of women, with some overlap between the castings over the course of the production, Kramer directs 3 separate casts during the first three performances, October 2, 3, 4. Darius McKeiver directs a single cast during the second weekend, October 9 through October 11, and Grace Anastasiadis directs a single cast for the closing weekend of the performance, October 16, 17, 18. This notion of sharing the experience and spreading the love allows for many different takes and approaches to be brought to the performance, making it a truly collective piece that really displays the unified bond of women everywhere.
The setup for the show is simplistic, allowing the audience to focus fully on the fascinating tales contained within the stories told. On opening night, thirteen chairs, thirteen women, and they all wear black. They all wear black with pink accents— whether its shoes, a scarf, a piece of jewelry— this notion of similar colors in the styles that make them comfortable is another unifying thread that further illustrates the similarities of women and how we share a collective history of fashion. Our experiences are different, because they are personal, but we can all relate and in some instances discover that our experiences are in fact the same.
Opening weekend also includes parading the women into the scene almost like a fashion show with a well-recognized Cyndi Lauper number is the perfect start to the show as it sets a fun mood about the atmosphere. The second and third weekends will include slightly different artistic elements as each weekend presents a different take on the show. While a great many of the tales contain levity and moments of high humor, there are more serious stories contained within the performance. Playwrights Nora and Delia Ephron capture the female experience of life and relationships through the lens of the wardrobe with divine description and earnest sentimentality.
Creating a truly unique experience with this particular production, S. G. Kramer, Darius McKeiver, and Grace Anastasiadis are giving theatergoers nine unique opportunities to see five fascinating groups of women telling these tales. It is encouraged to see as many of the different casts as possible as they all bring their own personalities to the stage for an impressive evening of theatre.
The opening night cast— October 2— included Valeria Lash as Gingy, one of the main narrative figures in the story. Lash is the Executive Producer of Arts Collective and the current Dean of Arts & Humanities at Howard Community College. Opening night talents also included Barbara Brickman— an HCC Arts Educator and Arts Advocate, Sierra Young— a current HCC Student, Janelle Broderick— the current Horowitz Center Director at HCC, Laura Yoo— an associate professor of English at HCC, Mary Kay Sigaty— a Howard County Council Member, Nancy Tarr Hart— the Managing Director for REP Stage, Tara J. Hart— an HCC professor, Carole Graham Lehan— the Performing Arts Chair and Dean of Faculty at Glenelg Country School, Terri Laurino— an actress, Sharon J. Pierce— Vice President of Academic Affairs at HCC, Lynn C. Coleman— Vice President of Administration and Finances at HCC, and Zoe Irvin— the Executive Director of Planning, Research, and Organizational Development at HCC.
These thirteen women engage with one another as if they are old friends, and some are. They listen to the stories as they are told, actively watching and responding to these familiar tales as they unfurl, entreating the audience to do the same. While the stories will remain the same across the three weekends, how they are told, how they are related, how they are experienced will vary with every cast.
Saturday October 3rd’s cast will include the return of Valerie Lash, Barbara Brickman, Sierra Young, Tara J. Hart, and Carole Graham Lehan. In addition to these women, joining the Saturday evening performance will be Gabrielle Amaro— a student actress, Apryl Motley— a communications consultant, Susan S. Porter— an actress, Peggy Yates— a member of Actors’ Equity Association and an associate professor of Speech and Theater at Prince George’s Community College, Elizabeth S. Homan— The Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing at HCC, Carolyn Kelemen— an area producer, dancer, and mother of NPR’s Michele Keleman, and Diane Schumacher— Athletic Director at HCC.
Sunday October 4th’s cast will feature the return of Valerie Lash, Sierra Young, Nancy Tarr Hart, and Peggy Yates. Joining the performance will be Leonora Kramer— a mother, grandmother and arts advocate, Latishia Jones— a theatre artist, Julie M. Jones— Audience Services Manager of the Horowitz Center at HCC, Debbie Mobley— an actress, director, and Human Resources Manager, Cheryl J. Campo— an actress, project manager, and Adjunct Engineering Instructor at HCC, Jean F. Moon— President of Jean Moon & Associates, Liz Bobo— an actress, and Helen B. Mitchell— writer and Philosophy Professor at HCC.
The cast slated to appear for the weekend of October 9, 10, and 11, will feature the return of Tara J. Hart, Sierra Young, Gabrielle Amaro, and Apryl Motley. Joining the performance will be Suzanne Beal— Co-producing Artistic Director of REP Stage, Kathy Marchall— an actress, Jillianne McCarty— Choreographer, receptionist, wife, Penny Nichols— an actress, Terri Laurino— an actress, and Ilene Chalmers— an actress and a teacher.
Closing weekend brings 11 not-yet-seen performers in this series to the stage including: Lisa Yerrid— Lead Box Office Attendant of the Horowitz Center at HCC, Colette Roberts— Arts & Humanities Family at HCC, Tiffany Underwood Holmes— Managing Director of Red Branch Theatre Company, Jessica Welch— a Writer, Farida Guzdar— Arts Supporter and Employee at HCC, Margie McDonald— Arts & Humanities Family at HCC, Melissa Paper— a mother, actress, dancer, and wife, Aarone Huggins— Arts & Humanities Family at HCC, Angela Renee Phillips— an Artist and Instructional Designer at HCC, Amy Chase Martin— Director of Faculty Development and Instructional Media at HCC, and Melissa Ratti— an actress. It also features the return of Janelle Broderick, a part of the opening night cast.
It is a truly touching experience. Having only attended opening night I can only speak on behalf of the first 13 woman of 45 that are featured, but it’s a fond evening of relatable stories that touch the heart, tickle the funny bone and alight to the mind what it is like to live life as a woman. Our wardrobe says a lot about our lives, and can often contain some of our fondest memories.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission
Love, Loss, and What I Wore plays through October 18, 2015 at the Arts Collective @ Howard Community College in the Studio Theatre of The Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center— 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, MD. For tickets call the box office at (443) 518-1500 or purchase them online.
For more information on which ladies are performing when, be sure to check the event’s page!