A few words from Sue Bevan upon the opening of her new one-woman show
AN AUDIENCE WITH SHURL written and directed by Sue Bevan; starring Sue Bevan. Internationally-touring 4* tragicomedy about loss and the search for meaning. Nominated for Outstanding Performance Award, Prague Fringe! (Solo Show)
Performance Schedule: Tues 7/25, 6:00pm; Fri 7/28, 7:00pm;
Sun 7/30, 2:45pm
Running Time: 60 minutes
Venue: Jewel Box Theater, 312 W. 36th Street.
Ms. Bevan has presented this stunning piece all over the world.
Now it’s up to you, NY, to make her feel welcome.
Natasha Dawsen, editor.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE
‘Are you nervous?’ someone asked me last night about bringing my show over to New York? ‘No,’ I replied honestly. ‘I don’t tend to get nervous anymore before doing Shurl – just excited to be sharing it with people.’
A couple of hours ago I sat in the tiny black box theatre that is Midtown Festival’s Jewel Box. The technical rehearsal went well – efficient; lighting states swiftly sorted; cue-to-cue accomplished without a hitch. Twice. Tony Mann, the techie for the space, is easy to get along with, professional and sensitive to what’s needed to make An Audience With Shurl fly. (He’s even excited about seeing it in a couple of hours.) So there we were with a generous fifty minutes of tech time left over – fifty minutes in which I could do whatever seemed fit. I opted to let Tony go (although he still pottered somewhere out of sight and sound) and have the space to myself, to squeeze in a speed run of as much of the play as I had time for.
‘Lovely to see you here,” I greeted an imaginary audience, ‘but I nearly forgot you was coming! Memory, eh?’ Then on to the bit about everyone supposedly remembering exactly where they were the day JFK was shot. ‘I guess for the youngsters it’ll be the Twin Towers…’ It stops me dead in my tracks. Suddenly I am breathless – that kind of breathlessness that only comes with fighting back tears, suppressing the need to wail, preventing tears of grief from flowing like twin rivers about to burst their banks. And I have no idea at all where this came from. No idea whatsoever. But in that quiet moment, alone in that tiny theatre space just an arm’s throw from the site of the 9/11 tragedy, a wave of something way beyond myself swept through me, leaving me wondering how I will cope in just a couple of hours when I deliver that line. And what will its mention do to others sharing that space with me for that hour.
So should I change the reference? Should I leave the line out, or find another? I don’t believe so. I have a feeling that single line, that poignant reference for every New Yorker and for so many beyond the city’s bounds, I have a feeling it might bring me tonight to an emotional connection I’ve never yet reached with this piece – this piece about loss and search for meaning. And it would be a cop-out not to include it. Theatre can be such a wonderful, intimate space to connect with our feelings past and present, and to experience a community which is now sadly so rare in our lives. No, I think it would be wrong to take out this moment of connection to something beyond ourselves.
So I think again now about that question: am I nervous about tonight? Yes, I’m nervous. In truth I’m full of nerves. And that’s such a different experience from what I normally feel before performing An Audience With Shurl. But I’m not afraid. And that’s what matters. It makes me think of the lines in when Shirley Bassey takes little Shurl’s hands and tells her, ‘ Don’t be afraid. Hold my hand. And hold it tight. This path is a fine path to be taking. Don’t be afraid. I’m with you know. Come on, let’s go. We’ve got a journey to make. And we’re going to make it together. I’m here now. As long as you need me.’
I don’t know who was with me in that space today, but I know we’re doing this together.