Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tales Told Way Out of School - Verna Gillis' "Tales From Geriassic Park: On the Verge of Extinction"

By Byrne Harrison

Verna Gillis
It's generally agreed that there is a shortage of good roles for women, especially those of a certain age.  If only everyone could meet that challenge by writing a piece as funny and moving as Verna Gillis' "Tales From Geriassic Park: On the Verge of Extinction."  This autobiographical, solo show (winner of last year's United Solo Theater Festival Best Comedic Script Award) is built on a lifetime of work, some of it pleasant, some of it hard, all of it interesting.

"I don’t have enough time left to spend it reflecting on how it was; how it is is much more compelling and requires all the attention I can give  it."

Gillis is a wordsmith, and an ethnomusicologist, as well, so it is no surprise that her script and her performance style has a musicality and an innate sense of rhythm about it.  As she talks of such diverse subjects as managing not to pee before her pants are down, a grandmother lost to the Holocaust, her immigrant parents who met in the States, finding and losing love, the difficulties of living with another person, cancer, eating disorders, and of course, old age, she softly spins her words like a quiet slam poet, drawing the audience in with vivid images and sprightly, comedic wordplay.

Sadly, "Tales" had a one-night only run at this year's United Solo Theater Festival, so you may not have another chance to see it for a while.  But hopefully the show, and Gillis, will keep coming back.

"Tales From Geriassic Park: On the Verge of Extinction"
Written and performed by Verna Gillis
Stage and lighting technician: Timothy Soyk
Associate Producer: Sarah Taylor

United Solo Theater Festival
Sunday, September 27th

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