Monday, July 7, 2008

Talking with solo performer Arlene Malinowski

A conversation with playwright/performer Arlene Malinowski
by Assistant Director Maggie Carlin

Arlene, doing a one-woman show like this is kind of unique. I have to know, how did you come up with this idea and what did you base your ideas off of?

There are two people I have to mention in order to answer this question. The first is Anne Etue. I saw a performance of Tokyo Bound, which Anne Etue directed, and I said, “I want to do that!” Anne became my fairy god mother. Tokyo Bound is a one-woman autobiographical play written and performed by Amy Hill, who was even nominated for an award. So, anyway, I was talking to Anne and telling her about myself and my family and she told me that I had a story to tell and that I needed to tell it. And that’s how I got into autobiography work.

The second person I must mention is Kerry Haynie. He directed my first show and really helped me develop my story. We started out with a sixteen-minute piece and he wanted to know if I could go further and really expand my story. I had been working on some material for about a year but nothing was complete so this forced me to put it together.

I based my ideas on an American Sign Language storytelling style. The characters that I have, their positions, placements and quirks are based on deaf storytelling, which was an easy way to tell my story. There could be no other way to tell my story!

You have kind of already addressed this but who have been your biggest influences over the years and why?

Every storyteller that I have ever seen at the Deaf Club. Oh, and my Dad too. He is an amazing storyteller.

What do you think are you greatest accomplishments thus far?

Holding the vision of being a good daughter, sister, wife and friend. And of course being a good teacher. I have been lucky enough to have a number of careers that have prepared me for the next level and they are all a part of my accomplishments.

You share a lot of personal facts about your life and your families’ lives. How have they reacted to this?

Wow, so many moments are pivotal that people don’t remember! Some things that have meant so much to me, my family will say, “That didn’t happen.” I really believe that reality is truly shaped by who you are and what you see and what’s important to you.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Theater and the work you’re doing?

I just want to say that the reason I love autobiographical work so much is because as a culture I feel that we don’t know enough about the people around us. We know and connect with the people of “Grey’s Anatomy” or even “Project Runway” but we don’t know our neighbors! Most of us don’t even know the stories of our grandparents! We’re not connecting to each other and in doing so we’re losing ourselves.

I want people to watch my story and think, “I know what that’s like,” not just C.O.D.A.’s (Children Of Deaf Adults) but everyone. I want my story to be a springboard for all of us to share our own stories and make connections.

I really feel that a play is like a molecular structure that can change who you are. I mean, a good play invites you to watch but a GREAT play lets you see the world differently. My goal is to connect the world one story at a time!

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