Richard Light will be bringing his one man show, "Parts and Poems of the Body”, to Fresno for The Rogue Festival starting this week. In the show, Light plays 5 different characters, all massage therapists, including a Latino gay man, a French lesbian, a Chinese grandma, and a Kiwi redneck.
The piece takes place in the break room of a spa and runs 45 minutes.
Performances will take place at the Spectrum Art Gallery at 608 East Olive Drive. Performance dates are Saturday, February 28th at 12:30PM, Sunday March 1st at 5:45PM, Friday March 6th at 6:30PM and Saturday March 7th at 4:15PM. GET TICKETS HERE
I asked Richard some questions to give us some insight into his process…
Give us some background...How did you get involved in theater?
I have always loved performing. I took ballet as a kid and was Fritz and a bon-bon in a local SF production of the Nutcracker. Then as an adult I've studied theater and dance in San Francisco and NYC with Studio ACT, The Martha Graham School, Mark Morris, and Alonzo King. Last year I started exploring solo theater with Dave Ford at the Marsh SF.
What motivated you to create "Parts and Poems of the Body"?
To perform in front of an audience is always a motivation, a rush, and a high, but I also wanted the artistic challenge of creating and playing multiple characters in one piece without a narrator. Also, "Parts and Poems of the Body" is a line from Walt Whitman's "I Sing the Body Electric" and I wanted to write a piece, like that poem, which celebrated the body, sex, and libido.
Why the setting of a spa?
Having not written much in my life, I heard somewhere that you should write what you know. For the last 7 years I've worked as a massage therapist at a spa in San Francisco, so I definitely know about that. Specifically, it's set in the break room of a spa, so I hope that even if someone who has never been to a spa, or had a professional massage will still relate to the common "work/office" setting of the piece.
Did you base your characters on specific people?
Two of the characters, the gay Latino man and the Chinese grandma were based on specific people at work. The Kiwi redneck was based on 2 people at work and my brother. The other two female characters are less specific. All the characters are ultimately an amalgam of people I've known including myself.
What's your process for creating your characters?
I created the Chinese grandma and the Latino gay guy by thinking and being inspired by them and wondering what they would do in the circumstances of the play. The Kiwi redneck and French lesbian started with their voices, their accents and then I'd project personalities onto them. I love working on accents and dialects and this piece gave me an opportunity to do that. The American girl was the hardest for me, because at first no one really liked her, including me, but I'm happy with her now. She's just a mish-mash of women I've known and worked with. The characters were then all tweaked and changed to serve the story and dialogue as I came up with it.
Who's your favorite character in the piece and why?
My favorite character is probably Stewart, the Kiwi redneck. I like his hedonism combined with sensitivity. I also just love Kiwi and Australian accents. Recently I've been spending time with my Chinese-Australian relatives and it's such a hoot to listen to them!