Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Jul 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Coming of Age

AE-1Local writer and performer Patrice Vecchione brings her one-woman show home
Coming of age at 50 is different from coming of age as a young woman. And coming home at the age of 50 has a power all of its own. After experiencing a sell-out run in Monterey—with standing ovations following each performance—local playwright and performer Patrice Vecchione says of her new one-woman show, “Now I’m ready to bring this home.”

 

Vecchione’s multi-media stage play, “A Woman’s Life in Pieces,” opens Friday, June 25, at Actors’ Theatre in Santa Cruz, where it will play for three performances throughout the weekend. Directed by Rosemary Luke and starring Vecchione as the bawdy, ballsy Calla Lily Russo, this “memoiristic” play is based on moments from Vecchione’s own life. But that doesn’t mean it’s autobiographical. Part of the fun is in telling a lie that reveals a truth.

“There’s definitely truth in the story,” says Vecchione who is a playwright, fiction writer, poet, collage artist and teacher. “But it’s not the story of my life. I may take a nugget of something that happened then build a story around it.”

Perhaps Calla Lily Russo says it best, in one of her lines from the play: “If I take a collection of random pieces, fragments of life—cresting waves, an Egyptian bowl, questions thought but never asked—fragments— which is all we have till the end, and rearrange them, could I make a new story?”

As she makes the significant transition between the age of 49 and 50, Calla Lily is searching for meaning in her life. During this process, she examines all aspects of everyday living from her sagging chin-line and love affair with chocolate to feelings of helplessness in a world of poverty.

“This spunky gal swears like a sailor and takes the side of children and small animals in all matters,” says Vecchione. “In other words, Calla Lily is an ordinary woman celebrating the extraordinary in daily life.”

As much as Vecchione uses multiple forms of media to tell her stories, Calla Lily’s story is told with not only acting, but also through a collage of images projected onto a larger than life-size hand of a woman and video footage that depicts her growing up in an Italian-American family.

Born in New York City, Vecchione moved to Santa Cruz when she was 11 and credits this seaside town for much of her early inspiration—as well as salvation—in the world of art. Specifically, she credits her former teachers at Santa Cruz High School.

“I had a great English teacher, Arlene Hankins,” says Vecchione. “I am eternally grateful to her. Also Cathy Gill—she taught me to read literature. I was doing drugs, cutting school, and my parents weren’t getting along. Life wasn’t easy for me.

“Here I was really floundering and these teachers knew it. Arlene Hankins told me, ‘Write poetry.’ I used to cut class and the dean would find me outside the music building, writing poetry on paper the size of a postage stamp because my self esteem was that small.”

The days of writing on postage stamps long gone, Vecchione has authored two books, the poetry collection “Territory of Wind” and the nonfiction book “Writing and the Spiritual Life: Finding Your Voice by Looking Within,” as well as edited numerous acclaimed anthologies.

She has also become well-known in the greater Monterey Bay Area for the creative writing workshops she teaches for both adults and children in her program

“The Heart of the Word: Poetry and the Imagination, a Writing and Literature Program.”

“As much as this play is about anything, it’s about making a life out of art,” Vecchione says. “It’s also about making art out of life. Somebody said women have more than one life. When I came of age as a young woman, I had the confidence of a fly that was squished on a window. I had passion, vision, desire, but I was terrified all the time. I invented a life that I made up out of desperation and creativity.”

Now, in the dawn of her fifties, Vecchione speaks for both herself and Calla Lily, “I’m just coming into myself. Coming of age at 50 is about feeling free from any limitations. I have a lot less self-doubt. This is my life. I feel time moving. I look in the mirror and see time written all over my face. So I better not sit on the sidelines.”

While she creates art to understand what she sees and experiences around her, most importantly, Vecchione creates art to make connections with others. “The bottom line is that it’s about wanting to shorten the distance between human beings,” says Vecchione. “The responses I got from people (after the first run of ‘A Woman’s Life in Pieces’) totally rocked me to the core—mostly women, but men too, coming up to me after the show, throwing their arms around me and saying, ‘Thank you. You told my story.’”

If there’s one thing that Vecchione has learned in her 50-plus years of living, it’s this: That life is made of stories. “When you read headlines, you don’t feel connected, you feel distant,” she says. “But when someone gets up to tell their story, you realize that we’re all connected. In the play I almost literally run into a soldier on the street. What I realize is that he could have been my son. It’s not somebody else’s war, it’s my war. It’s not somebody else’s cancer, it’s my cancer. We’re all so interconnected. Without that connection, without our stories, we’re sunk. By virtue of telling our stories, we can’t be numbers. We’re able to maintain identity and humanity.”


“A Woman’s Life in Pieces” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 25, and continues with two additional shows at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 26 and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 27 at Actor’s Theatre, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20 and available at Bookshop Santa Cruz (423-0900) or at the door one hour prior to the performance. For more information, call 426-6387.

 

 

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by diane grunes, June 16, 2010
great article, Lily!!
thanks for taking the time to let everyone in Santa Cruz learn of Patrice's performance, as well as a
glimpse into her life growing up here!

Diane Grunes

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Jailbreak with Reality

‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ revisits one of the most notorious studies of all time
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover