My first production with Pride Films & Plays has been a joy ride. This production of Gina Femia's world premiere of a bad-ass group of women doing what they love while fighting to love themselves found a great home in this company. Under the direction of Rachel Edwards Harvith, I've spent the last month surrounded by a diverse group of powerful, hilarious, and talented women.
This has been my first time supporting a new work. Part of this process was bolstered by Gina's presence in rehearsals. With her eye and mind to support our exploration of the heightened realism, we were able to really push the boundaries of what the text had to offer. I've worked with many scripts in my life, but this was the first time where a difficulty with a moment or the flow of narrative was easily and swiftly adjusted by the playwright, to support the process moving forward. The spirit of this kind of collaboration made every aspect of the work exciting.
Rachel created a room where collaboration between the artist was paramount. From performers and directors working to embrace the architecture of the space, to the sound designer sitting in rehearsal, and creating sound cues based on what we had blocked, every idea was a possibility.
We also had the joy of building a play based on real women. The world of roller derby was one I knew peripherally - a few buddies of mine skate with The Windy City Rollers. In preparation for this process, I did lengthy interviews with some of them about what the league and their teammates have meant to them. What I found was an inspiring, intersectional community of athletes unafraid of female strength, and unapologetic for existing gracefully within it. Through these meaningful conversations we were able to inform the physical language of the play, and create a more truthful depiction of the sport. As another part of this relationship, we were able to support for one another's work. The cast and production team of For the Love Of attended the Juanna Rumbel Cup, to support the incredible athletes of The Windy City Rollers. In turn members of the Windy City Rollers came to see our show, taking a seat in our little Buena Park theatre and taking a ride with the Brooklyn Scallywags.
This production's positive portrayal of women, queer relationships, and unconventional career paths has become a jewel in my body of work. The effort to maintain my artistic pursuits while balancing a full time job was strengthened as I surrounded myself with women who were doing the same - and doing so successfully. Previews for this work began just as Earthquakes in London was closing, which meant there were weeks where I was juggling all three things. And yet here was this story of these women who keep showing up, day after day - late night practices, brutal injuries, and more - for the love of the game. So I press on. A little tired sure, but with my heart beating in time to my sisters.