The Tulsa Performing Arts Center presented this touching performance of short pieces that look to the diverse lives of women.
The Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s Liddy Doegnes Theater has been home to the OK World Stage Theater Company’s production of “Love, Loss and What I Wore” for the past week. The play, based upon the book by Ilene Beckerman and adapted for the stage by Nora and Delia Ephron, takes audiences to a myriad of places, through the eyes of a multitude of women and a plethora of clothing items.
With similar likeness to Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” the play consists of a series of short group pieces and individual vignettes that expound upon common themes in women’s lives through the articles of clothing they acquire, donate, trash, love and hate.
The show had several little scenes set up around the stage, fitting with the short snippet style pieces. The back of the stage had a clothesline with large illustrations of the different clothing items and outfits characters would describe in their monologues. It was really charming to hear one of the women discuss playing dress up in grandma’s closet — something I did often when I visited my grandmother in chicago — or their taffeta puffy sleeve prom dress that they wish they had kept, but knew their daughters would scoff at the notion of wearing.
More than just a physical diversity within the company was a very real representation of diverse and unique life experiences involving race, religion, sexual orientation and heritage. There was a really lovely segment where two of the women were alternating story lines about shopping for their wedding dresses and how their mothers were either overly invested or completely detached and uninterested. The big reveal was that the two women were marrying each other, and it came together in this incredibly beautiful way at the front of the stage with the rest of the cast clapping and tearing up.
Another vignette towards the very end of the show involved a 21-year-old African American woman dealing with breast cancer. The scene took us through the initial diagnosis, the recommendation for a double mastectomy and the after effects of the surgery and chemotherapy. It was moving, to say the least.
My favorite piece had to be the one in the second act where a woman went on an extended tirade about how much she hates purses. I turned to the friend I went to the show with and she was pointing at me knowingly. I constantly complain about purses and I found myself nodding along in total agreement with the actress. The final touch to the vignette was the bag the woman decided to carry around in lieu of an expensive dainty little handbag: a blue and yellow vinyl tote bag. It was riotous and beautiful all at once.
The wonderfully diverse group of women with the OK World Stage Theater Company really brought the room to life. There was laughter, tears and just a real sense of female camaraderie at work throughout the performance.
The way the play operated with a small cast of incredibly talented women who could shift tones and characters in seconds to accommodate various plot lines is rather ingenious. Much like I feel about “The Vagina Monologues,” I would encourage as many people as possible to see or read this magnificent piece of art as it tells universal and yet deeply unique individual stories, which is quite the feat.
I wish there had been at least a single man at the PAC performance last Sunday, as I think there is a lot to learn from this play while also much enjoyment to be had. I’m very glad that I got to see this production and hear stories based on real women’s experiences and lives. To me, real lives are some of the greatest sources of art and creativity.