Advertised as two works-in-progress, the latest offering at the Common Ground Theatre in Durham is entitled Rough Draft: A Night of New Solos. The two one-act plays performed by their female playwrights, Lormarev Jones and Katja Hill, are as different as the women themselves. With minimal sets, the actress-playwrights presented their works to a small, but appreciative, audience.
The evening begins with Lormarev Jones and “The Virgin Cookbook.” A self-professed virgin, she opens the evening by presenting a guest, fellow actress and instructor at Franklin Academy in Wake Forest, Abbey Collins, who tells the audience her story of discovering how babies are made. After Collins finishes and returns to the audience, Jones reveals her own story and the focus of her one-act play: the way she learned about sexuality and society’s expectations that she would not remain a virgin beyond her teens.
With a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and confident, comfortable-in-her-skin command of the stage, Jones shares stories of her mother and grandfather and their role in her sexual education. She takes on the persona of her grandfather as one would slip into a glove. She shrugs on an apron and a cap, then relates how “PeePaw” admonished her and spewed bits of homegrown wisdom about sex and life and cooking. That relationship plays a pivotal role in Jones’ life education and her sense of humor, and that relationship also offers the most poignant moment in the play: PeePaw’s death and Lormarev’s difficulty dealing with losing her grandfather — both physically and spiritually.
By talking about the things a person leaves behind, Katja Hill draws the audience in. Details of her Finnish mother’s life and subsequent struggle with cancer come clear in the things she left behind: the painting of a favorite place in Finland, an etching, a box of letters and photos. She tells the story of her parents’ love affair (he, an American; she, a Finnish woman who begrudgingly marries him) and of her mother’s indoctrination into American life. Through those stories, Hill draws a picture of a culture few write about. Though the blue-eyed, blonde persona is one with whom most Americans are familiar, few are knowledgeable about the Finnish-American culture Hill relates.
As stated previously, the two women are quite different in appearance. Lormarev Jones is African-American and a Southerner; Katja Hill is European-American. Their families are also different from each other, but the two plays and women intersect in more ways than is initially evident. The ways we learn from our family members and the impact that is made on us when one of the members of our nuclear families passes crosses all gender, racial, and religious boundaries. Love is love. And that is what keeps the small audience at the Common Ground engrossed in these two new plays. Yes, the plays are “rough drafts” and could use some tightening and revision. The actresses also would benefit from more experience and knowledge of their craft. But their stories embody the necessary ingredients that make for a good play: the commonalities we all share as human beings.
SECOND OPINION: June 27th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/x1065839290/www-brownpapertickets-com-event-382023-Two-women-two-personal-shows.
Katja Hill and Lormarev Jones present ROUGH DRAFT: A NIGHT OD NEW SOLOS at 8 p.m. June 29 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.
BOX OFFICE: 919-698-3870, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/382023.
Katja Hill: https://www.facebook.com/katja.hill.52.
Lormarev Jones: https://www.facebook.com/lormarev.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater reviews. She is also Dean of General Education and Developmental Studies at Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, where she oversees the theater program at the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex, and a member of the Person County Arts Council. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/. To read more of her writings, click http://dawnrenolangley.blogspot.com/ and http://poetryandgardening.blogspot.com/.