Go Deeper

Big Star California: A One-Woman Act

Posted September 8th, 2011

Big Star California Flyer“I was drawn to a one-woman act because it’s what I hate, so I had to do it,” says Big Star California‘s playwright, Zac Kline. One of several one-person performances in this year’s Philly Fringe, Big Star California features Blair Baker, who stars as Ryan, a woman on a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle.

The show is a trip through Ryan’s memories as she contemplates whether or not to continue her journey with her boyfriend, Matthew. Utilizing stream of consciousness techniques, the show finds Ryan looking back at her life to find a way forward. Zac finds writing honest and full female characters challenging and ccompelling: “when I worked with Blair on Messed Up Here Tonight, she played a character named Ellie who was very complicated, but whom we both grew to love. This was the perfect opportunity to write a one-woman show, something I had never done before. If I encounter a great male actor who’s looking to work on a show, there might be a one-man show in my future.”

Zac loves theater in all shapes and sizes, but has a special affinity for spaces where theater is not traditionally performed. “I love spending time in Broadway houses, black boxes, The Merriam, The Wilma, rock clubs, etc — I love creating pieces for them. There’s something interesting that happens when you tell a story in a non-traditional space: it both challenges the audience and invites them in in a way that’s intimate, refreshing and most often very exciting.” This past February and March, Zac’s play Messed Up Here Tonight ran in an apartment on the Upper East Side. Zac also produced a new play this past June, called Summit Avenue, which was performed on a field on Governor’s Island (a recently re-opened recreational island between Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty). Zac’s 2011 Fringe show is also in a unique space: Big Star California is at the penthouse of the Residences at Two Liberty Place, so as Ryan travels along the scenic Pacific coast, the audience will have their own Philadelphia panorama. As Ryan vocalizes her internal debate about her future, the audience will see a magical view unfold before them.

Zac has found that the biggest challenge of working with only one voice is how to turn that voice into many: “I’ve always approached this project in the same way I’d write any multi-character play. The most important part is figuring out how to find a balance between what is expected of a one-person show — narrative, storytelling — and match that with my style of play writing, which is dialogue driven with characters who love to talk and often need to be heard.”

Big Star California runs September 9, 10, and 11 at the The Penthouse, the Residences at Two Liberty Place, 50 South 16th Street, Center City. Times vary, $10.

–Christina Snyder