Curves Ahead: Women share stories of life in Summit County
If you go
What: World premiere of “Curves Ahead,” by Carisa Peterson, an original presentation of the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre; please note that this performance contains adult language and mature subject matter.
When: Opening night is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, with performances on select dates through Sunday, Jan. 25
Where: Breckenridge Theatre, 121 S. Ridge St., Breckenridge
Cost: Tickets start at $25 for adults and $20 for youth younger than 18; groups of 10 or more receive a $2 discount per ticket; for opening night, tickets are $25 and a $5 add-on gets the patron two glasses of champagne.
More information: Visit www.backstagetheatre.org or call (970) 453-0199 for information and tickets. Tickets are also available at the box office one hour before show time.
Explore the dating scene, parenting practices, snow and ice, and culture shock of being a woman in the High Country with the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s newest original production, “Curves Ahead,” making its world premiere on Friday, Jan. 9, and running through Sunday, Jan. 25.
The show, written by local playwright Carisa Peterson and directed by Backstage artistic director Chris Willard, is a series of monologues written from interviews with Summit County women who shared their stories of triumph and trepidation, love and laughter, interspersed with one-liner guidelines on how to survive as a woman in a culture dominated by “bros.”
“We are a part of such an active community — so often, it is about what we do, whether it be work or our outdoor adventures or getting our family through one day and on to the next,” said Peterson, who included her own observations of life in Summit to supplement the stories she collected. “We rarely have the time to sit down and talk about why we do these things that we do, or even how we do them; even more rarely do we get to laugh at the absurdities our choices produce.”
SCRIPT TO STAGE
Peterson said her favorite part of the writing process, which spanned several months from first contact through interviews and questionnaires, was hearing stories come out of the woodwork that she otherwise wouldn’t have been privy to.
“It made me feel on a more intimate level with the community and community members,” she said. “Many women’s stories are much more complex than you would ever imagine, or ever know, even if they are a person you interact with every day. Suffice it to say, that like our ‘extreme’ climate, a woman’s life picture is often a combination of extreme elements — great highs and dark lows — and the most interesting tales that came ‘swirling out of the pines’ as part of this project included both.
“It was also fun to draw out the absurdities of life that maybe sometimes we don’t think about. It was fun to be kind of the mixologists of all of our local stories.”
A rotating cast of nine local and expatriate Summit County women will bring the script to life each week, each interpreting the stories in her own way.
“You’ll get someone else telling it each time with their flair and their twist on it,” said Lenore Giardina, who is co-directing and performing in the play. “It is always interesting as an actress; I love that you never know what’s going to happen. Is it going to make me laugh? Is it going to make me cry?”
All of the stories in the show are based in truth, though some tales are taller than others and some have been embellished a bit to add to the theatricality of the production.
“One of my women is a stylist in town, whom we interviewed and got a couple of stories from,” said Giardina, who also helped conduct interviews for the script. “Another one doesn’t like the cold, doesn’t like it here, but understands why everyone else does. … Dating up here is hysterical and just funny, the stories we got from women and pickup lines.”
Another section of the show is about the accumulation of ice on the sidewalks, which spreads like “The Blob” and never quite seems to go away, Giardina said.
“More dangerous than the threat of an Ebola breakout, more frightening than a mugger, and much more slippery than a used car salesman — it’s ice, ice, baby,” the script reads. “The town should find a way to pipe a conga beat over Main Street. It would make watching the daisy-chains of tourists desperately holding onto each other for fear of falling way more entertaining.”
The range of topics addressed is broad and familiar, whether you make your home in Summit County or you’re just visiting.
“You could be in New York City and tell a story about a bad date; we just happen to be telling a story about a bad date that happened here in Summit County,” Giardina said. “If you are a woman who’s struggled at all in your life, dated, had fun, made mistakes, I think the stories are totally relatable.”
Willard said he approached Peterson to write the script after the success of a show with a similar monologue format, “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” part of the 2012-13 Backstage season.
“It’s kind of a nice position to be in that we have an opportunity occasionally to program things that are near and dear to our hearts, not just shows that have premiered on Broadway, but pieces that we can develop that are specific to the areas that we live,” Willard said.
The play isn’t just about dating or snow and ice or skiing, Willard said, it’s about every permutation that women experience when they live here, whether they were born in Summit County or migrated here from somewhere else, and the empowerment that comes from being a woman in the mountains.
“It’s about the family of women up here, the commonality of experience,” he said. “It’s a small community but a dynamic, powerful, strong community, and that’s the overriding message of the whole show.”
In Willard’s opinion, the final line of the script says it all.
“We have each other’s backs; we do each other’s laundry, carry each other’s baggage. No, literally — as we move from bedroom to condo to house and back again. We are part of each other’s stories, when here we thought we were bucking the standard and going rogue.”
“Curves Ahead” stars Lenore Giardina, Abbey Austin, Julenne Moore and Erica Fox (Week 1); Leah Arnold, Genevieve Price, Susan Harrison and Emy Holden (Week 2); and Giardina, Austin/Fox, Dixie Chamness/Arnold and Holden (Week 3). Learn more about the show at http://www.backstagetheatre.org.
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