Duckling, Disco & Diva Donna.
Babe, Lady & Star Cher.
Little, Teen & Grown Zeph.
Three actors inhabiting the same character at different stages of their life is nothing new, but has been a very prominent storytelling device recently. My killer lip-sync to “Believe” and love of shiny jumpsuits may not have won me the role of Lady in The Cher Show, but I have been given the opportunity to have the experience of sharing a character with two other actors in 22, premiering in New York City this August.
22 tells the story of Zephry Davis, a young man struggling with anorexia. The audience follows Zeph’s journey, as told through three versions of himself, seeing how this terrible disease take control of his life.
I must admit that I was quite nervous before our first read-through. I hadn’t performed in a straight play since high school, and the idea of playing the same character as two other actors in the show intimidated me. Would I be too different from the other Zephs that the audience would have trouble believing I was the same character? Would I unintentionally turn my performance into an imitation of Ben’s or Gevi’s?
I quickly discovered that these would not be issues and that we would instead become our own ensemble.
Ben, Gevi, and I are different people, so our life experiences inherently color each of our Zephs in a different way. By giving ourselves permission to approach Zeph with the truth of who each of us are and who he is at each point in his life, the audience gets to see him change before their eyes from both a storytelling standpoint and physically.
As each Zeph brings out different qualities in their performances, we’re able to discover more about this character by watching each other in rehearsal. Even though Teen Zeph is at a totally different place in life than Little or Grown Zeph, Ben and Gevi’s performances have inspired and influenced mine, and I’ve learned new things about Zeph through them.
However, my favorite part of being a part of Team Zeph is the unique bond that has been created. Even though we are small in number, we are our own ensemble, telling the story together. Team Zeph rarely interacts onstage, but we are constantly passing the baton to one another as each of us steps into the spotlight to give our Zeph a voice, contributing to the greater story — free of ego, serving the play and Zeph with integrity and our whole hearts.
Come see 22 this August. We are ready and excited to share this incredibly special story with you.
22 makes its New York City debut from August 6-11 at the New York Theater Festival. Tickets and additional information are available at www.22theplay.com.