Karen Lefkoe on Shirley Valentine
What's it like taking on a one-woman show?
Well, taking it on was easy. I fell in love with Shirley and with the play as soon as I read it. It wasn't until well into the rehearsal process that I realized that embarking on this kind of project suggests quite a bit of hubris. Fortunately, the play is so beautifully written, Doug's enthusiasm and guidance so constant and wise, and my own determination so dogged, that we were past the point of no return when that thought struck me!
But seriously, learning 55 pages of text was a job, but not the most difficult aspect of the process.
Sounds obvious, but the lack of fellow players was a real challenge for me. I like to think I'm a pretty connected actor-I get a lot of energy from other actors on stage and I try to give a lot back. With no one else on stage to feed off of, Doug and I were concerned about keeping the performance spontaneous and connected. Well, as it turned out, I have a whole room full of fellow players every night. That was certainly the case when we produced the play in Middlebury. And, having attended many VSC productions and witnessing the incredibly supportive and willing audiences that you enjoy, I have no doubt that we'll have fun together in Burlington as well.
What's it like playing a woman like Shirley Valentine? Any similarities to you? Differences? Challenges?
It is an honor to play Shirley Valentine, truly. Willy Russell brilliantly created a woman who is funny and thoughtful, spunky and profound, constantly hopeful and ultimately forgiving. I aspire to be more like her!
Certainly there are many aspects of Shirley's life that, thankfully, I haven't experienced. For example, unlike Shirley, I have an incredibly supportive, generous, and adventurous family. But I think we can all identify with her struggle to keep track of herself, her frustration with small-mindedness, and her humor-always her humor. I wish I could tell my story as well as she tells hers!
Oh, and I talk to myself...or rather, to the audience in my head, constantly. Just like Shirley.
Why should our audiences see this play? What do you want them to take away from the experience?
Shirley Valentine is a fun, entertaining, and ultimately life-affirming play. It's full of profound wisdom told with simple, honest humor. Each scene is a series of delightful stories and insights that take the audience from point A to point B in Shirley's journey-that's it. Nothing complicated. Nothing artsy or avant-garde. And that's the beauty of it. Spending an evening with Shirley is like sitting down for a chat with your best mate-and your best mate just happens to be really funny.