Theater

'Owning who we are, without apologies or explanations'

That's how Karla Eoff and Kristen Woolf came up with 'Two Old Ladies Acting Out'

By Dena Miller
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 6/12/19

Act out (transitive verb): To represent in action; to translate into action; to express something directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms …

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Theater

'Owning who we are, without apologies or explanations'

That's how Karla Eoff and Kristen Woolf came up with 'Two Old Ladies Acting Out'

Posted

Act out (transitive verb): To represent in action; to translate into action; to express something directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms (Merriam-Webster, 2019).

"Crazy as it sounds, I ran into Kristen [Woolf] at the grocery store by the chicken livers in the meat department, and we decided it was way past time to do something creative - maybe, I thought, called something like, 'two old ladies acting,' " Karla Eoff said.

"Kristen came back at me, saying, 'No, It should be about two old ladies acting out,' " Eoff continued, laughing. "And here we are, owning who we are without apologies or explanations, audaciously leaning into it, and putting the plan in action."

And so, Woolf and Eoff, as the ever-lively and unapologetic "Two Old Ladies Acting Out," will be on hand this weekend at the SOMOS Salon and Bookstore to entertain their audiences with a selection of monologues and dialogues culled from centuries of writing — literally from 400 B.C. to 2018 — that finds unexpected grounding in our present day.

In each hour-long performance, the duo will offer seven vignettes in the simple yet intimate surroundings of the SOMOS Salon, located at 108 Civic Plaza Drive. Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday (June 14-15) at 7 p.m., and Sunday (June 16) at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, which opens 30 minutes prior to each show, and seating is on a first-come basis.

"We didn't consider anything like age when we selected the pieces to perform," Eoff assured. It was simply that, over the course of their experiences in acting and producing, Woolf and Eoff had each amassed a backlog of materials they "loved or feared or were just curious about," as Woolf noted.

In her case, Woolf brings her fascination with ancient Greek culture to the performances. "Over my lifetime of reading about the Greek theater and the amazing plays that grew out of it, I began to wonder what it would be like to act in one," she said. "No theater in Western history is so heart-piercing, so beautifully poetic, written so perfectly for the stage. It's terse, shocking, elevating: in short, everything one wants in an evening of theater." A narrative from "The Trojan Women" by Euripides, and the confrontation between mother and daughter from his "Electra" are both included.

During her New York years, Eoff was fortunate enough to meet playwright Wallace Shawn while he was developing his one-man piece "The Fever," which Eoff and Woolf found enigmatic, challenging and interesting to include in their show. Indeed, a 2007 New York Times review of the monologue notes that it "exposes the contradictions and compromises of the urban liberal mind with a mercilessness that is sly and at times hilarious."

"Then there's Flo and Edna, the 'Polish Church Ladies in Housedresses,' cooking a funeral breakfast in the church basement for Mary Nowicki, and talking about making duck blood soup. It's lovely little scene from 'Lives of the Saints' by David Ives,' " Woolf said.

Eoff concurred. "Though Kristen had performed this before, I was unfamiliar with it but was immediately charmed. Flo and Edna have a sweet relationship, one where they finish each other's sentences, and Kristen and I just fell so easily into it. The vocabulary of the piece has entered into our own personal vocabularies."

Some years back Eoff had performed Jane Martin's "Handler" at Metta Theatre in El Prado, which Woolf remembered seeing and asked if they could revive it. On the surface it's a narrative about certain fundamentalist practices but, in digging deeper, the two discovered the story of a woman's journey from unquestioning faith, surrounded by her family, to loss, death and realization. "Hot stuff if you're an actor," noted Woolf.

At Eoff's recommendation, Colin Nissan's "Bad News" is included. Originally appearing as a 2018 "Shouts and Murmurs" column in the New Yorker magazine, Nissan's characters, Everybody and Everyone, follow world events on their cellphones. "Is there anything that's a truer slice of modern life?" Woolf wondered.

"And let's not even get started on 'Skin of Our Teeth' by Thornton Wilder," she continued. "Suffice it to say this play is even more relevant today than it was in 1942 [when it premiered]," noting its underlying universal themes of war, strife and climate issues.

Woolf and Eoff will move between characters in minimal costumes, using just an item or two to make the necessary differentiations. "The production flows quickly from vignette to vignette, and we want to keep the different aspects enjoyable and relevant to the audience. After all, in theater, the audience is as much a character in the performance as what we offer before them," Eoff observed.

Electra and Clytemnestra. Flo and Edna. Everyone and Everybody. With characters such as these, "We're like kids in a candy store." Woolf concluded. There's no doubt these two will leave you with your sweet tooth satisfied, as well.

For more information wwabout "Two Old Ladies Acting Out" call Kristen Woolf at (575) 751-3349 or Karla Eoff at (575) 751-1183.

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