In Trustus Theater’s production of “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” clothing takes center stage.
The all-female play written by sisters Nora and Delia Ephron takes on the role women’s wardrobes perform at different stages of life. The productions centers around Gingy, a woman who tells the story of her life framed around different pieces of clothing. The four other cast members split up 28 different monologues, each for a different character.
“It takes a different look at experiences in life – what people were wearing and what clothing may have played a role in those experiences,” said Emily Harrill, who performs monologues as several different characters in the play. “Some of those pieces are intimate and some are funny. The way it’s set up lends itself to the easy communication of some of those more intimate thoughts and feelings.”
And with the play’s intimate feel comes an intimate setting. The performance will take place in Trustus Side Door Theater. The 50-seat space will be transformed into a coffee house setting in order to make the production feel like a night of women reading their own memoirs. Audience members will even be able to get a cup of coffee to sip while they watch the show.
“We’ve been really looking for plays in the last couple of years that embrace that intimacy. This play is perfect for that space,” said Larry Hembree, the play’s director and Trustus’ managing director.
The small space will also challenge the actors to strongly connect with the material, Hembree said.
“You can smell insincerity a mile away. Because you’re so close, we’re trying not to act but to just stay present and feel sincere,” he said. “This isn’t work that these women don’t understand. These women are a lot like them.”
Besides fashion, the play also closely focuses on the dynamics of women’s relationships, especially mother-daughter relationships.
“What is unique about it is the focus on connections to people, connecting to mothers in particular,” said Tiffany James, who also performs several monologues in the play. “A lot of women share the same story. If we haven’t been through the story ourselves, we know someone with that story. Similarly, if an audience member doesn’t directly connect with a story, they almost certainly know someone who can.”
James and Harrill both connect directly with some of the play’s stories. Harrill performs a monologue about a woman going through treatment for breast cancer. This, she said, brings back memories of her own sister, who recently died of throat cancer.
“It’s a totally different experience, but it has me thinking about her experience and some of the things she had to deal with, as well as some of the positive things I remember her saying,” Harrill said. “There’s a part in the piece that says ‘You better wear something nice when you go to chemotherapy’ ... it’s kind of funny because I remember her saying things like that.”
James’ relationship with her mother, who has recently been released from a long hospital stay, has also been highlighted while she has worked on the production.
“Being in this play is very important to me, especially with what’s going on in my life,” James said. “I can’t wait until she’s in the audience and I get to tell the story to her. It means a lot to me because of the connection between mothers and daughters.”
IF YOU GO
‘Love, Loss, and What I Wore’
WHEN: Friday, Jan. 3, through Jan. 18
SHOWTIMES: Shows on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays start at 8 p.m. The Sunday matinee is at 3 p.m.
WHERE: Trustus Side Door theater, 520 Lady St.
TICKETS: $20 for general admission and $15 for students
INFO: Trustus Box Office at (803) 254-9732 or www.trustus.org