Melissa is riding a post-show high when I bump into her at the Tent. She’s just gotten done with a performance of We Tiresias.
“This is my third Fringe in a row, and my second Fringe working with the wonderful Stephen Spotswood, the playwright of our piece,” she explains. Melissa and Stephen met when they both students at Catholic, and she worked with him last summer as an actress in his play The Sisters of Ellery Hollow. She’s also worked with Bright Alchemy, a collection of artists with whom Stephen has devised shows in the past.
“Stephen can do anything,” she says “I really like his storytelling. The strength of his style really carries over from his past plays when he writes something new.”
The several actors featured onstage in We Tiresias do a lot of focused storytelling, and Melissa is proud of how well they’ve been connecting to their audiences. Although the show harkens back to Greek drama, it’s a modernized story at the same time. “Stephen uses the English language beautifully. The character of Tiresias is a soothsayer, so when he has visions he describes everything in very poetic terms. It’s wonderful. I love speaking these words.”
Melissa finds DC a great place to collaborate. “Yes, I love working with playwrights on new works. It’s awesome to be able to give voice to local artists’ work right at the time they’re making it. People in this area have a lot to say and some beautiful stories to tell. I really enjoy being a part of that process.”
During our chat Melissa introduces me to actress Laura Keena. Laura’s just finished performing in Dizzie Miss Lizzie’s new musical The Brontes. The two were college roommates, and it’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other. “The Brontes is brilliant — really fun and energetic,” she says. “It did a really great job of balancing the theme of death with lightness and humor. And Laura’s a great singer and a great human being. I’m proud to be working Fringe alongside her.”
How great to finish a performance of The Brontes here at the Tent and step right out into the post-show watering hole! Melissa agrees. “I love the Tent. It’s a great way of building community and meeting new people. But it’s also great for seeing friends that I’ve been out of touch with. That happens all too often, since we’re all working on projects all the time.”