The brilliant and hilarious Lisa Verlo is once again at the Whitefire Solofest…thankfully.
Her show “Hollywoodn’t” is a fearless exposé of the Hollywood industry.
An entertaining and extremely truthful show, built around Lisa’s own experiences of harassment and manipulation, long, long before the #METOO movement. Back when innuendo and sexism was commonplace and accepted, the cast couching the norm and careers were lost and actresses labeled “difficult” if they didn’t play ball…so to speak.
I love this show. Lisa is so clever and warm and lovely. Her talent blows the doors off this little theatre in Sherman Oaks and her amazing media mix of songs, comedy, truth and a truly magnificent stop motion Barbie sex video is perfection.
I wondered how on earth this all came to be. So I asked her!!
Lisa, what drew you to creating a solo show?
After workshoping a musical with a cast of 20, that my partner and I wrote called The Door, I decided that my next project should be something much more manageable. I wrote Sex Rated G: a one woman show with a man in it, originally as a duo, but realized it could be done as a solo show. I started writing Sex Rated G as a family musical, actually, but as it evolved more and more into a sexual memoir, my solo career was born, which is cool because one of my most formative experiences in theatre was seeing Julie Harris in The Belle of Amherst. I had touched on some issues that really came to the forefront with the #MeToo movement, so I decided to delve even deeper in Terrie Silverman’s 6 month solo show workshop and then signed on with Jessica Lynn Johnson to direct and develop it further as HOLLYWOODN’T.
You’ve had such an interesting life, how did you decide what to leave in and what to leave out?
HOLLYWOODN’T focuses more on my experiences in the entertainment industry and less on my personal relationships. I’ve had quite a few experiences on the casting couches of Los Angeles and didn’t even fit them all in the show. I did include some background, just to show where I was coming from, stories about how I was brought up all over the world, but somehow, was still rather naive in the world of Hollywood entertainment.
Your play includes delicate and controversial subjects, how do you balance what talk about?
The process of developing a solo show is quite a journey of introspection. In Sex Rated G I was already excavating some buried feelings as I explored the behavior that I was confronted with early in my career as an actress. I spoke about a very famous director who influenced many of my decisions as a young ingenue, an acting teacher who gave me some very questionable advice, and a manager who acted more like a pimp. In HOLLYWOODN’T I pretty much lay it all out and even name some names, because, after all, that’s what really counts, right, holding people accountable for their actions?
Why was it important for you to do this show?
Sometimes it takes years to truly understand how our experiences have shaped us. I gave up an acting career because I just couldn’t deal with that aspect of the business. The very dark grey area of sexual coercion and consent. I know it goes on everywhere, but there are some businesses where harassment runs rampant and we are finally getting a good look at how much it has permeated show business. It took nearly a hundred actresses to speak up in order to get Weinstein convicted. And those are only the ones that dared do it… the tip of the iceberg. Imagine how many women were really affected. I had to add my voice, my story… I never ran across Weinstein but I have my stories, and I wanted to get into that grey area, of sex and quid pro quo.
Is there anything you wish you had included that you didn’t?
I probably included some things that I shouldn’t have, but I was feeling pretty brave and empowered by all the women coming forward with their #metoo stories. I did have a few gasps and some phone calls asking me if what I was saying was true. That’s always a good sign that people are paying attention though, right?! Maybe I could have thrown in another song.
What advice do you have for anyone creating a solo show?
Find the humor in the drama. Of course we want to be genuinely moved, but I think above all, watching one single person for a whole hour needs to be entertaining, so mining the tragedy for laughs is always appreciated. My show is mostly a comedy, because, really, I just had to sit back and take a good look at how very naive I was. I can laugh at that now, and yes, get pretty pissed off at a few people for taking advantage of it. You know who you are… and now… everybody else does too. Hah! the joke’s on you now.
Thank you Lisa! Cant wait to see Hollywoodn’t again!
The show is running for one night only this weekend, Sunday March 15th at 7.30pm…if theatre is your church, then solo shows must be your confessional….brave the world and see this show!!!!