Actor Latoya Rhodes on performing in MAMA and rehearsing A/VERSION OF EVENTS

Actor Latoya Rhodes with Carleton Bluford (playwright, MAMA; co-star, A/VERSION OF EVENTS)

Latoya Rhodes has previously appeared in Plan-B’s HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (10th anniversary revival), SLAM and the Free Elementary School Tour of DIFFERENT=AMAZING. She is currently appearing in MAMA and in rehearsal for A/VERSION OF EVENTS.

“Guess what they have at the Pennsylvania Wawa? Éclairs mama!”

Wait? Was that the line?

It has been interesting balancing running MAMA performances at night and rehearsing A/VERSION OF EVENTS during the day. I remember everyone telling me to make sure I don’t start reciting lines from A/VERSION during MAMA. Thus far, I’ve  achieved keeping the shows separate, and have not merged them together . . .  yet!

Last Monday the chaos began for me with daytime rehearsals for A/VERSION OF EVENTS and  evening performances of MAMA. Because of the energy of starting a new play my energy was bright, alert, and ready to dive into the piece. To connect with the material, and start getting into the shoes of Hannah. Also, thinking in the back of my mind, “We open MAMA this week!!!” So my energy probably was everywhere, ready to take on the challenge of putting up two new shows back to back. Thinking to myself, what an honor this is! Along with, what the hell was I thinking! More of the former than the latter. I remember Christy [Summerhays, director of A/VERSION OF EVENTS) asking me if I was exhausted. I oddly was not! I was extremely pumped.

In MAMA I play all the daughters in the scenes and in A/VERSION OF EVENTS I’m playing a woman struggling with the idea of being or becoming a mother because a lot of traumatic things have happened in her life – deep issues she must face on this road trip to Chocolate World. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately: how both those plays have a connection to motherhood, how both plays, in their own ways, ask if giving birth is enough to make you a mother. I think it’s fun finding those links between the stories we tell in MAMA, and the story of Hannah in A/VERSION OF EVENTS.

Has it been exhausting thus far? Yes, but isn’t that what we strive for as artists? To keep creating interesting stories to share and give to the audiences? Isn’t that always the goal to be busy in the world of storytelling? For me I can say yes! It is what I’ve been striving to do. It is a pleasure to see MAMA come to life every night, and in the day start to see A/VERSION begin to take shape. To start off my days with getting to act opposite of my über talented best friend (who I literally have seen almost everyday since January), work with two incredible women, and then at night get to celebrate motherhood with my MAMA family. How can I complain about being tired when I get to work with some of the best artists in SLC? I am thrilled to take on this challenge and work hard to create the best storytelling we can. Although on Friday, the exhaustion hit for a moment, I could not complain. The bigger picture is this: I feel blessed to be allowed to be on stage, and surround myself with art. That’s the dream, and I don’t wanna wake up from that.

The world premiere of MAMA by Carleton Bluford continues through February 22. A/VERSION OF EVENTS by Matthew Ivan Bennett receives its world premiere March 5-15. Details and tickets at planbtheatre.org.

High school playwriting students visit A/VERSION OF EVENTS Rehearsal
Thoughts from some of the real-life people portrayed in MAMA

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