March is my birthday month, and I recently came upon this photo of last year's b'day cake with a line from my show -- you can remember my name isn’t UR-ma by thinking of “Ear-muff.”
My one-woman show, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? completed a successful 5-month run and closed last weekend at The Berkeley Marsh Theater. Thank you to all who attended. I was so pleased with the full houses both Saturday evening and on Sunday’s final matinee.
An absolute thrill to receive standing ovations from both these audiences that were undoubtedly feeling extra generous given that it was my closing weekend. If only, every performance could be on a closing weekend!
When my show opened in San Francisco in late October 2018 for a seven-week run, I was a bit nervous about whether folks would come. True, I had drawn strong attendance at earlier shows when I performed two weekends in a row, or on a single evening, and during the SF Fringe Festival. Would my work appeal to folks beyond my network of friends and Marsh Theater regulars? But came they did, and people told their friends and colleagues, and folks kept showing up, some coming to the play more than once. These audiences garnered me a six-week extension through the year-end holiday season. Again, I wondered if holiday parties would minimize attendance. But audiences did not disappoint, and folks showed up. I performed 12 weeks in San Francisco and then my play migrated across the bay to The Marsh in Berkeley.
The Berkeley Run opened on Super Bowl Sunday, and naysayers (including my spouse) thought that attendance would be low. Since I know lots of people who don’t watch football, my play offered an alternative to Super Bowl Sunday. Plus . . . I had the good fortune of having Betty Reid Soskin, one of the Bay Area luminaries as my inaugural talkback speaker. Betty’s fan base did not disappoint, and my Berkeley run got off to a great start. Big shout out to my friend LaNon Gillins who brought Betty to my show in San Francisco and introduced me to her.
If you don't know who this amazing woman is, click here to read why Glamour Magazine named her one of 2018 Glamour's Women Of The Year. Wonderful story and beautiful photos and videos of Betty. You can now watch the low-tech iPhone video of the 35-minute conversation Betty and I had about her remarkable life when she was one of my talkback speakers. It resides on my website, just click here.
Betty is beloved and respected well beyond the Bay Area. Here’s a picture of Betty with singer, songwriter, producer, actor and all-around amazing human being, John Legend, (can you tell I’m a fan) and the former Mayor of New Orleans. When Legend and Mitch Landrieu found themselves in the same venue with Betty, they marched right over to get their picture with her.
It was an honor to perform Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? 19 times in San Francisco and an additional 15 in Berkeley. The issues addressed in my play remain as relevant today as they were when the events recounted in the play were unfolding decades earlier. Recently Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was mocked on Fox News for pronouncing her name correctly, accused of exaggerating how she says it, doing that “Latino Thing.” She promptly hit back hard on twitter schooling Fox on what the Latina Thing really is. More here.
This past week an elected official in Houston, Judge Lina Hidalgo, was criticized by Mike Tice, an elected official from a neighboring county for speaking Spanish at a news conference. Judge Hidalgo used her bilingual skills when addressing English and Spanish news media covering a massive chemical leak that presented a public health emergency to the residents of Houston, Texas. The Commissioner called Judge Hidalgo “a joke. English, this is not Mexico," Tice wrote. He further added in an interview, “it’s real simple. This is the United States. Speak English. If you come to this country, learn the language or get an interpreter.” For the record, Judge Hidalgo was speaking fluent English and Spanish in the press briefing, she did not need an interpreter to communicate with the press. More info here.
My play is not going away, it is just on hiatus for several months, as I work on other projects and pursue performance opportunities at several universities and some theater venues outside of the Bay Area. I will keep you posted. I am also taking some time off and traveling in Europe, and brushing up my French in language school in Paris for a few weeks, something I have wanted to do for decades. Seize the day. Profite de l’instant present. Carpe Diem. All those reminders about not waiting for tomorrow are really speaking loudly to me.
Upcoming Bay Area Performances of Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?
If you missed my play, or if you want to tell others who might be interested in seeing it, I will be one of the featured performers in Brian Copeland’s The Best of SF Solo Series, with one show in San Rafael on October 12, 2019. Next spring, as The Best of SF Solo Series continues, I will perform in San Leandro on March 6, 7 & 8th. Info and tickets will be available here.
A Special One-Off Mini Show
Excited to be performing at Solo Sundays on Sunday, April 17, a new stand-alone 15- minute piece called Have You Ever Wanted to Un-See or Un-Know Something? This show has nothing to do with names, it’s about the disappointment and anger that comes with learning that someone isn’t as fair-minded and accepting of others as you believed them to be. It’s also got a lot of humor.
I’ll be sharing the stage with three other performers, Kelly R. Kelly, Steve Budd, and Evelyn Jean Pine. If you’ve never been to Solo Sundays at StageWerx on Valencia Street in San Francisco, you are in for a treat. I’m looking forward to seeing what my fellow performers are bringing to the stage. More info and tickets at solosundays.com.
New to My Newsletter?
For those of you who are receiving my newsletter for the first time, thanks for reading this, and if you enjoy what you read, share it with friends. I look forward to staying in touch. Now that my run is over, I’ll soon be turning my attention to writing on issues of social justice. So stay tuned for upcoming blogs.