The reality of theater
by Breeda Kelly Miller
It always seems like a good idea at the time. “Let’s write a play!”, “Let’s act in a play!”, “Let’s produce a play!”. Then it’s “Oh shit, what did I get myself into?”. Memories of the Little Rascals when Spanky announces they should “Put on a show!” and the little ones rig up a curtain on an old stage. Then Alfalfa and Darla belt out a few tunes. I am not a singer, though I do manage to squeak out a painful tune at one point in my one-woman show, Mrs. Kelly’s Journey Home. It’s not pretty, but it’s done for comic effect.
I was wrong.
My collaborator and director, Brian Cox pointed out that performing a one-person show is like a high wire act, without a net. It’s just me, my stories and a few cups of tea (for moral support). When I first wrote Mrs. Kelly’s Journey Home I thought it would appeal to a limited audience, people who like stories about Irish things, people who are in the dementia care world and caregivers in general. I was mistaken. When I ask audience members what the show was about, nobody said it was about dementia and caregivers. Instead, they tell me that it’s about family. About love, about roots. It’s about recognizing that the tiny gestures of love are the most precious memories of all. While it’s a very personal story it is a universal story.
It’s funny and it’s real
I think that has been the biggest surprise and most rewarding aspect of writing, performing and producing this play. People have told me they laughed out loud one moment and then had a tear in their eye the next. Regardless of their race, religion or experience wth aging parents this play resonated with them. I play four different main characters, as well as a few colorful guests throughout the show. Even without costume changes, I am able to channel my mother, my father, and our dear neighbor, Mrs. Wilson. My biggest challenge is remembering the order of the bits and the stories. I know the stories inside out, but remembering their placement and staying on track with the visual images on the screen behind me is a challenge. Jim and I were watching television and a commercial for a memory-aid pill kept popping up. One frustrating day I said to Jim, “That’s it! I need to get some Prevagen!”. My doctor laughed when I told her that story. So, no. I am not using any medicinal assists, except for a bit of caffeine in my tea.
Theater is enchantment
I am thrilled to announce that I have five upcoming performances of Mrs. Kelly’s Journey Home booked and many more pending. My goal is to perform this show across the US, Canada and Ireland and the UK. I am also working with a national organization to be the Presenting Sponsor. By getting a presenting sponsor I will be able to perform this show in communities that don’t have a budget for a professional theater production but that need a break and an entertaining and engaging way to raise money for their organization. That’s my strategy and I’m excited to share it with you.
Theater as a fundraising event. It’s not a brand new idea but my concept is a bit different.
Instead of a traditional gala or golf outing, nonprofit organizations bring me in to perform at a local theater (or high school auditorium).
They provide the venue, the tech support, and a few fundraising activities.
They sell the tickets (regular and VIP), they host a post-show reception (simple desserts or a full meal) where I meet and greet folks and we have a lovely time chatting.
They may have a silent auction.
It’s big fun and they raise lots of money with very little expense. Here’s the kicker. The next day, I perform the same show as a matinee and all the guests are invited by the organization, free of charge. It’s a chance to thank local health care workers, senior care workers, families of people in care, caregivers, anyone who needs a break. It’s a wonderful way to give back and find the goodness once again.
The Tour (so far)
If you’re in Michigan this spring, I hope to see you in the audience.
May 7, Manchester, Michigan. https://tinyurl.com/acornmrskelly
May 22, Detroit, Michigan. Gaelic League of Detroit
June 11,12, Brighton, Michigan. A Wilde Theater
June 25, Saline Michigan
Sept 16,17, Traverse City, Michigan. Old Towne Playhouse
For more information about the show, including a few video highlights and audience comments go to: www.mrskellysjourneyhome.com
If you are interested in booking a fundraising performance, just drop me a line: Breeda@breedamiller.com. There is a show spec page on the website that has loads of important information and resources for anyone booking a performance. I am here to help to make your event the best experience possible. Let’s bring Mrs. Kelly’s Journey Home to your town.
All the best,