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A Community Of Support For A One-Woman Show

It takes a village to pull off good theater.

While Breshaun Joyner might be the only performer on stage during Once More With Fire, there are seven other women behind the scenes who are helping to get this one-woman show off the ground.

Making Art From Life

Joyner began sketching out this one-woman show ten weeks ago with the encouragement of a friend. Originally scheduled as a celebration of her fortieth birthday, a series of tragedies came in the way of her following through.

After ending a romantic relationship, Joyner was slapped with a custody suit for her son. Her job as Education Director at The Bloomington Playwrights Project was cut by fifty percent, and a house fire forced her and her son to move into a hotel for three months. Once More With Fire was written as a testament to her own resilience. "Theater is what I do," she says. "This was the only way I could make sense of things."

Along with Breshaun, the character based most closely on herself, there are four more characters who guide the audience through the show. Joyner says they are all representations of her psyche:

  • Carol is the tour guide of the nervous breakdown.
  • Shaniqua is the archetype of the "scary black woman."
  • Melissa follows the teachings of Dr. Susan Pemberton to find true love.
  • Captain Alice is the head of Breshaun's Guardian Angel Defense Team.

Alone In The Spotlight

Joyner explains that keeping her energy high throughout the performance is one of the many challenges of performing a one-woman show. Another challenge? Not having another actor onstage with her, she has no one to feed her lines should she draw a blank.

As the show's playwright, though, Joyner does have some freedom to improvise. Just how much freedom, however, is determined by her stage manager, Lori Garraghty.

As Garraghty helps Joyner learn the script, she picks her battles. She does not nag Joyner to stick to her lines verbatim, but, she explains, "there are points where I don't feel like letting her have leeway, because the words she has on the paper are strong."

A Theater Quickie

Garraghty points out, too, that this show is different than anything she has worked on in the past. "Normally, you have six weeks of rehearsals alone," she explains, "so ten weeks from inception of the show to opening night is a quick turn-around."

Both women agree that it has taken the work of all eight cast and crew members to make Once More With Fire a reality. "It's nice to know there's a strong community of people here who believe in theater, who were also down for a ten week time frame, and who trust me," Joyner says.

Community Involvement

A portion of the proceeds from Once More With Fire will go to Local First Indiana.

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