Seatbelts Required: No Ghosts, but Plenty of Drama

Posted: January 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Our very own Paranormal Housewife, Kimberly Demmary, has written a play that is currently running in North Hollywood.  If you are interested in a wonderful evening out, the play runs for three more weekends so don’t miss out! Spoiler Alert! There are no ghosts in this play.

 Below is Kimberly’s first-hand account of opening night.

Seatbelts Required (or the play I wrote to piss off my sisters)

 Elizabeth Kimball, Chelsea Pitillo and Cynthia Manous in “Seatbelts Required”

My palms are sweaty. My heart is thumping so hard in my chest, I’m certain that the people sitting directly in front of me can hear it.  I have a shiver that permeates my entire body that no amount of layered clothing can fix.  My legs are bouncing up and down, creating this constant low vibration within the row of seats where I’m sitting.

Even the rehearsal and workshopping of this play had not frightened me this much.  The last-minute cuts and edits had been stressful (my biggest lesson learned is not to be married to your words.  Trust me, you won’t miss later what you’ve taken out) — but that process was a breeze compared to opening night.  Here I am, sitting in a theater, completely full of friends, family and my PHW sisters, ready to watch my play professionally performed for the very first time.

Seatbelts Required is about three sisters, who never really got along while growing up.  Their mother had been the catalyst for most of their strife.  After their mother’s funeral, the sisters are once again re-united inside their childhood home, where they try to come to terms with the destruction their mother brought to their lives.  As the afternoon progresses, they hesitantly try to connect through remembered laughter and shared sorrow, as they re-live their harrowing past and their struggle to realize that a deeply shared bond connects them. They can look only to each other for healing.

Did I mention my two sisters are in the audience?  My body is not going through opening night jitters; it’s going through sister jitters.  I have no idea how they’ll take seeing the show.  I had told them that what they were about to see on stage is not how I truly feel about them.  I couldn’t help but wonder if, after seeing the show, they’ll believe me.

The lights go down on the stage, and the play starts.  My body is now humming with an energy that I swear is going to rip right through my skin.

I have been telling people who raised the question that my family life was not the inspiration for this play.  The original inspiration was actually a writing challenge that I had given to myself.  I wanted to write a play that would take place in a car.  And I needed to figure how to sustain engaging dialogue and drama in such a confined space.  Who better to accomplish that than characters based on family?

But as the play blossomed, it grew out of the car and into the family house.  And it wasn’t until I was in the re-write process of the play that I finally noticed the similarities between what I had written on the page and my own life.  I enjoy telling a story, and the situations in which my characters find themselves are exactly that — highly exaggerated storytelling.  However, the dynamics of their relationships and mine with my own siblings seem to hit a little too close to home.

I have to admit, though. that it’s quite a rush putting my characters into difficult situations that I wasn’t sure I could write them out of — or at the very least, survive with just a few scrapes and bruises.  My mentor,  the play’s director John Barker, often encouraged me to push the writing and the characters as far I thought I could and then step over that line and go even farther.  “Write until it scares you” is what he would tell me.

As I watch the audience react to the actors (my dear friends whom I trusted would take good care of my precious tormented characters), everything seems so believable. I find it funny when people who know I am the writer ask me “How much of this is true?”  It’s always phrased that way, as if they expect at least some of it to be autobiographical.  I’d like to hope that there is no family in the world that is this messed up.

The play is winding down.  For the past two hours I have heard laughter and crying from the audience. It’s everything I hoped for, but I cannot tell if any of those emotions were shared with my sisters.  The lights fade on the actors and the room goes to black.  Then the lights are up and actors take their bow, and I am pulled on stage (I was surprised that I could even walk as I could not feel my legs).

I anxiously look down at my sisters. They’re beaming, with tears in their eyes, clapping as hard as they can.  I can finally breathe.

Seatbelts Required

Run January 6th ~ February 12th

Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm ~ Sundays at 2pm

Actors Workout Studio

4735 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, Ca 91602

For reservations call the box office at 818-506-3903

Tickets $15 for Adults/$12 Seniors and Students

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