Blacktress is driving through the NoHo arts district in the valley when she spots a marquee in front of a small theater that reads: Sexy and Suicidal, LA’s fourth longest running stage play.  Blacktress is glad to be driving away from the theater instead of towards it.    I can’t believe it’s still running, she thinks.

Blacktress is no stranger to the production.  She’d been cast in the show years ago after being in LA for only two months.  The playwright/director/producer Tony White called to give her the good news.

“But I didn’t audition,” Blacktress said dumbfounded.

“I went over your resume and I liked it.  I’ve been doing this a long time.  I can just tell you’ll be right.”

Blacktress was confused but in no position to turn down roles.  Tony went on to explain the intricacies of his masterpiece.

“My play is about five beautiful high school basketball players.  They each suffer some kind of sexual abuse by a father or a boyfriend or something.  The play is like their journal entries coming to life.  In the end they all kill themselves.  Shit is deep.”

“Oh so it’s a comedy then.”

Tony breathed heavily into the phone.

“It’s more like Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls… meets Law and Order Special Victims Unit.  You know the one with Ice-T?”

Normally Blacktress would have had a smart ass retort, but the shock of his seriousness stunned her speechless.

Blacktress would find that the play was actually a masterpiece of duality. 

It’s comedic and tragic in the same instant but not quite intentionally,” Blacktress told her mom hoping to quell the inappropriate excitement over her baby’s Los Angeles theatrical debut.

Tony White made another strange casting decision by picking himself to take on the many roles of the monstrous abuser in all the girl’s lives.  His line readings were so disturbing that Blacktress took extra long showers at night after rehearsals.  Luckily or unluckily (Blacktress couldn’t decide which) rehearsals were few and far between.

“I feel like they are overrated.  We are all professionals.  I’ll block ten pages a day and we’ll crank it out.” Tony informed the girls.  Blacktress had seen more professionalism displayed in her youth theater group.

On opening night, there was no set, no costumes, and no one in the audience (who wasn’t a blood relative of one of the cast members).  Blacktress’ mom watched the play in peaks between her fingers from the middle of the front row.  When Tony White and Blacktress took to center stage to perform an under rehearsed, interpretive rape dance bit, they were inches away from her.   Blacktress’ mom spoke out at a volume level that suggested she may have been at home watching TV and not in a live theater.

“What the hell is this garbage??”

Today the garbage was far behind her.  As the theater grew tinier in her rear-view mirror Blacktress’ smile grew wider.  Tomorrow she would begin rehearsal for a different class of play, with real sets, real costumes, and real audience members not tied down to the seats by the obligatory strands of their DNA. It would also star one of Blacktress’ favorite actors.

“His name is George Holloway.  He’s almost famous now, but back in the eighties he was almost a really big ass star,” Blacktress had explained to her hairdresser just yesterday.

He played the character of a suave jazz pianist in The Green Grass, an old Oscar nominated movie Blacktress had seen three hundred times and nearly committed to memory before she even learned long division.

“So working with him is almost a really big ass deal then?” Her hair dresser asked.

“Absolutely.”

Each step forward in LA is a victory, she thinks. Blacktress turns up her radio, to blast a song unabashedly cheesy and bright.  It is 75 and sunny, and she doesn’t run into any traffic on the way home.   I got no cause for complaints she thinks.

Blacktress Tip of the Week:  While on the journey, take the time to celebrate each and every step forward.

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