This season, Trustus Theatre is going on a "Sexploration" in their newly named Trustus Side Door Theatre. Not that all of the plays are explicitly about the act of sex, but they do explore sexuality. The Trustus Side Door kicks off its current season with I Am My Own Wife, a one-man show starring local favorite Paul Kaufmann who will portray over 30 characters in one evening. The show opens Friday October 5th, at 8:00pm in the Trustus Side Door Theatre.
I Am My Own Wife is by playwright Doug Wright, the Obie-Award winning author of Quills. This show, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 2004 Tony Award for Best Play, and the 2004 Drama Desk Award for Best New Play explores the astonishing true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.
A transvestite and celebrated antiques dealer, she successfully navigated the two most oppressive regimes of the past century-the Nazis and the Communists-while openly gay and defiantly in drag. Von Mahlsdorf was both hailed as a cultural hero and accused of colluding with the Stasi (The Ministry for State Security).
The script calls for over 30 characters to be played by one actor, and Columbia is fortunate to have Paul Kaufmann stepping back into these roles for the second time. Columbia audiences may remember that Paul Kaufmann and director Ellen Douglas Schlaefer brought I Am My Own Wife to Workshop Theatre for a limited run in 2007. The original duo is thrilled to be bringing this moving piece of theatre to the Trustus Side Door Theatre.
"Performing this piece in the Side Door Theatre will feel completely different from the last production," said Kaufmann, "in that the audience and I will be sharing a much more intimate space. I'm excited to see how that will feel for all of us. While I Am My Own Wife is very theatrical in its construction and its form, I feel like the closeness of audience and performer will make the play seem almost conversational at times."
Director Ellen Douglas Schlaefer agrees that the transition from a proscenium stage to an intimate thrust will be a challenging difference, but she is excited to welcome scenic designer Heather Abraham to the production.
Heather's work has been seen and critically acclaimed at various Theatre South Carolina shows (MacBeth, Arabian Nights) and she'll be making her Trustus debut as she creates Charlotte's world.
Why bring this show back? "Because it is a good play," said Schlaefer. "The script is still a wonderful script. The story is compelling as ever. And, obviously, every performance is unique unto itself. I do think that the Side Door Theatre will ensure that the audience will be even more a part of the evening."
While the play is in some ways a piece about the past, its relevance is still very palpable today. "I love that a play like this won so many awards and that its merits are clear to so many people," said Kaufmann. "That's a testament to how our world is changing, and how we're finding the universality in subject matter that would have once only been interesting to many people for its curiosity."
I Am My Own Wife boasts a compelling story about a singular-individual, many important awards, and rich writing that allows one actor to explore over 30 different characters in one theatrical evening. This is the sort of show that Trustus set out to produce when it was founded.
"This is a play that will leave you thinking," said Kaufmann. "It's not easy or simple -- it's complicated and, at some level, very much about the complexities of the human experience."
I Am My Own Wife opens Friday, October 5th at 8:00pm and runs through Saturday, October 20, 2012. Shows on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays start at 8pm. The Sunday matinee on October 7th will be at 3pm.
The doors and box office open thirty minutes prior to curtain, and all Trustus Side Door tickets are $15. Reservations can be made by calling the Trustus Box Office at (803) 254-9732. Trustus Theatre is located at 520 Lady Street, behind the Gervais St. Publix.
Parking is available on Lady Street and on Pulaski Street. The Trustus Side Door Theatre entrance is through the glass doors on the Huger St. side of the building. For more information or reservations call the box office Tuesdays through Saturdays 1-6 pm at 803-254-9732. Visit www.trustus.org for all show information and season info.
Photo Credit: Sidney Palmer