Supporting creative work by women
Felicity Seidel brings her no-holds barred solo-show Lucky Chick to the New York International Fringe Festival. She developed Lucky Chick in Matt Hoverman’s Go-Solo workshops and with Naked Angels. She’s performed and read excerpts of her evolving script at Stage Left, the Bridge Theater and Theater 80 in NYC over the past year. And Lucky Chick was selected for Naked Angels First Mondays reading series this past spring.
Felicity spoke with Works By Women about developing the script for Lucky Chick, choosing the right stories, and all the wonderful people involved.
WORKS BY WOMEN: Your show Lucky Chick sounds chock full of wild, amazing stories. I imagine there are other great stories that were left out of the show. How did you decide whichones made the cut?
FELICITY SEIDEL: Yes… I have stories galore — a trunk full. Years of fun and crazy times. Looking back it feels like there wasn’t a dull day. I’m sure there were a few, but there was plenty of spice to make up for a dull day here or there. The thing is, when you’re writing a solo show you need to find your story structure: beginning, middle and end; desires and wants; conflicts and obstacles; a climax and a resolve.
So, when you have loads of stories to choose from, the criteria has to be looking for the moments where life takes a turn, where events cause change. You look for the stories that push your main character along his or her arc. It’s just like writing a made up story only it’s based in your life. It’s not just your imagination, it’s that plus stuff that actually happened to you. The trouble is that when your main character is you, it’s hard to see through the fog of the subjective input your brain has to offer. That’s where someone like Matt Hoverman comes into play.
WBW: Speaking of the piece’s development, tell me about that. How important working with Matt Hoverman (Go-Solo) and Naked Angels has been to the development of this piece.
FS: It’s no accident that Matt Hoverman (go-solo.org) is an Emmy Award-winning writer or that his Go-Solo workshops have long wait lists. He is a great writer. And he has worked long and hard to develop his consistent approach to helping people turn their life stories, or other stories, into performable solo shows. He has the patience of a saint and he’s done it over and over so he has an incredible feel for what works and what’s a waste of time. His class is a safe place to make a total ass of yourself, or at least feel like you are, which is key. I’ve worked with him both in his workshops and privately to develop Lucky Chick. Both were necessary and each was quite different from the other. It’s funny to think back on my first Level 1 class with him. I’ve changed profoundly as an artist through the process of developing this piece. He’s been a big part of that.
Liz Carlson (Artistic Director of Naked Angels), Joe Danisi and Andrea Cirie (Creative Directors of Tuesdays@9) aimed so much support my way. They brought Lucky Chick in for readings at Tuesdays@9 many times over and selected it for a 1st Mondays reading last spring. What does that mean? That means I got to bring in material from the piece and read it to a big lively audience filled mostly with actors and writers loaded with talent. Tuesdays@9 happens at Theater 80, (an awesome space we should all support) which seats over 150 people and it’s pretty much full most Tuesday nights. Where else do you get to walk in with pages fresh from the printer and go for it reading in front of that many people who are game and willing to go along for the ride week after week? It’s been a great place to talk about the piece with people I trust and build the confidence to stick with it. Solo shows are hard. It a very vulnerable medium: it’s your writing, your stories and you’re performing it. There is nowhere to hide. After a while, it becomes like acting in someone else’s play but it sure doesn’t start out that way. So the kind of support I’ve received from Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 people is really invaluable. They have been and continue to be the best audience and cheerleaders.
WBW: You’re working with a director, Padraic Lillis, who is greatly admired (by me and many others). Tell me about working with him.
FS: I love Padraic Lillis. He is one smart and talented guy. As soon as I met him, I knew we would work well together, I could tell his approach is collaborative and that he’s interested in making art. It’s all about the story with him. And he has the utmost respect for writers and actors. It doesn’t get any better than that. He’s like a martial artist who doesn’t push against energy, he finds the direction it wants to go and works with that. I’m sure it helped that he liked the script a lot but it’s just the kind of artist he is. Lucky Chick is a roller coaster ride and Padraic’s direction gives the ride a clear and definite shape, defines the ups and downs, twists and turns so it all can come to life, it all makes sense. His work is incredibly specific and fine tuned, not a moment goes unnoticed or unaddressed with him. I hear his words in my head all the time. We were in the middle of tech and I thought, “do I move the trunk now?” Padraic’s words came back to me, ”keep going. It will make sense when you get there.” And I did. And it did! When I got to the part when I’m supposed to move the trunk, I thought , “oh yeah, now is when I move the trunk! It makes perfect sense!” What a great way to work. Makes me smile every time I think about it. The other thing about Padraic is the people he brings on board. We have an extraordinarily talented team. They liked the script which helped, but they love Padraic, and that’s why they did it. I, now, am part of his fan club too. I would work with him anywhere, anytime, on anything.
WBW: What excites you about being part of the New York International Fringe Festival?
FS: There’s a lot of energy in and around the FringeNYC. All over downtown New York, a bunch of people are wildly making art for a couple of months then they open the doors for people to check it out. It’s pretty cool that there’s a chance for so many people to pull a show together, albeit with limitations and in a very short time, and have it be seen…and for us all to see each other’s work. It’s sort of upbeat, raw, lively and a big mess all at the same time. Just like playing in a sandbox when you’re a kid. I love that.
WBW: What’s next for you and Lucky Chick?
FS: As far as Lucky Chick goes, the plan is to partner with a theater here in New York City for a bigger production and have a chance to play with it more. It’s got room to grow, especially with more technical resources available. That’s on the short list as far as
things that could come out of being part of the New York International Fringe Festival.
My feature-length screenplay, The First Strange Adventure of The Bird, which I co-wrote
with my rockin’ friend Maggie Dubris is also in development. It takes place in a
world where homeless junkies dose away superhero pasts, sexpot nurses embrace their
caricatures, magic tattoos open cosmic doorways and dying leads to incarceration in a
Dark World. In it, a dapper old comic-book artist draws his paramedic friend, Bird (me),
into a superhero to save them all. I guess you could say I have a penchant for fun and
zany. Stay tuned… adventuresofthebird.com
WBW: What are the challenges facing women in American theater?
FS: I honestly have no idea. From where I sit, at the moment, it looks good. There are many young talented women directors and producers on their way to successful careers. As long as stories are being told by women too, I think we’re in good shape. That’s not to say there aren’t challenges, just that I can’t speak to them directly.
WBW: What gives you hope for women in American theater?
FS: The same stuff that gives me hope for women across the board these days. I think it’s a great time to be a woman. People like Meryl Streep, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Diane Von Furstenberg and many more are really leading the way for big change. It’s across the board from business to entertainment to art. It feels very different to be a woman today than it did even ten years ago. Most women will tell you
that they hit their stride somewhere around 40 or later. That women past 35 have been marginalized, particularly in entertainment, for so long, makes it tough to fully enjoy the potency of it all coming together, at least for some of us. That’s changing. It’s getting cooler and sexier to be a woman in the middle part of life with all guns firing. Look at Inside Amy Schumer’s Last F**kable Day. Not only is that piece hysterical but it’s a total power move. Those ladies are awesome and represent a new kind of role model for
young girls. Not bad. It’s exciting to be awake in the middle of a big change. I’m all for it.
LUCKY CHICK is at the New York International Fringe Festival this August. For tickets and information, visit www.fringenyc.org.