Some people can think of no worse fate than having their most private thoughts laid bare for public consumption.
One of the more mortifying moments of my life had to be when I accidentally posted a soul-baring entry meant for my personal Blogspot account on the public Blogspot for one of my journalism classes in college. This is rivaled only by the time I was contacted by a complete stranger on Facebook who informed me that he had found my high school diary…in a Seattle Goodwill store.
And that in order to find out who the owner was, had to read its contents.
Which is why I found the premise of SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL, a one-woman show that Heather Bagnall Scheeler adapted from the personal blog of Chicago playwright Laurel Spears, to be so mind-blowing. Scheeler, who is a part of the fledgling theatre company Tasty Monster Productions, was also in the company’s rendition of Personals–A Love Story for the Rest of Us, which ran earlier this year.
Scheeler initially found the blog that would later serve to be SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL’s inspiration through a friend. “She knew I was in a crossroads in my own personal life and she thought the blog would speak to me. She wasn’t wrong,” says Scheeler in an interview we conducted by Facebook message.
Spears’s blog, “Adventures of a Single Married Girl”, chronicles her revelations and her struggles in the dating world after a decade of being married, as well as her growth as an individual, without the added support of a man in her life. Spears writes about the novel experience of getting prepared to go on a date—with herself.
“Honestly, the line between Laurel and me is very gray because I started trying some of her little challenges…the idea of dating myself to try to sort out the chaos in my own life,” writes Scheeler. Scheeler realized that the struggle for identity that Spears was detailing in her blog would be relevant to many people, and ended up contacting Spears in an e-mail. It’s no surprise that Spears was a little hesitant at the prospect of putting her inner-most thoughts on full display of a discerning public. “She didn’t think anyone would care about her little blog and her thoughts on life,” adds Scheeler. ”But I did, and I really believed an audience would as well. So she said run with it.”
SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL is a distilled, hour-long version of over two years worth of material from Spears’ blog. The entire production consists of Scheeler delivering her monologue from a wooden swingset—perhaps a metaphor for Spears’ journey into the fully actualized woman she struggles to become after marrying a man eleven years her senior shortly after meeting him at the age of fifteen.
Scheeler plays Spears’ material with such conviction that I originally thought she was using material from her own blog. Spears’ refreshingly candid accounting of her own neurosis and moral failings makes you hang on her every word—even if you don’t always like her. There was more than one occasion where I found myself wincing at the #FirstWorldProblems nature of some of her angst, though it all may hit closer to home than one would like to admit.
There are far too many precious minutes wasted detailing the blander, more uninspiring passages of Spears’ blog—particularly when she waxes poetic on her childhood and anxieties as an artist. Spears redeems herself, though—on more than one occasion, the artist dismisses her feelings as arrogant or self-indulgent, and the question begs to be asked, how demanding can we be of the storytelling in a diary if very few people write in them with an audience in mind other than themselves?
SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL’s real strength lies in how honest the words seem—this is truly how the artist is when no one is looking.
SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL has 5 shows, ending July 28, 2012, at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th St NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Amrita rates this 3 out of a possible 5.