The show MUST go on, especially if it’s a Cherdonna Shinatra show and thankfully, the beloved local comedy/dance diva is creating new work in the Age of Covid with the assistance of the fine folks at Washington Ensemble Theatre (aka, “WET”).
WET and Cherdonna have teamed up before, for the loco charms of 2017’s Cherdonna’s Doll’s House a mash-up of the Ibsen drama and…well, the demented sensibilities of Cherdonna herself combining her caustic yet loopy wit with riot grrrl feminist sensibilities.
The new show is called THE DOLL PIT and naturally (Age of Covid, remember?) it’s going to be a filmed piece streamed online from May 21 to June 13, 2021. The quarantine resulting from the pandemic is what drives the new piece which features both the wacky Cherdonna AND her far more down to earth creator, dancer/performance artist Jody Kuehner trapped together coping with the rigors of being alone….yet, not alone. And, asks the question: ” Is your identity based solely on your productivity? “
And: ” Are you yourself if you’re unable to rely on what you know to be true?”
From the press release:
Jody and Cherdonna will tackle these questions in a larger-than-life dance film. Inspired by Joni Mitchell, The Kardashians, and featuring an actual ball pit, their symbiotic relationship will be tested as they discover they are perhaps one in the same, lost in a parallel universe of their making. Maggie L. Rogers, Artistic Director of WET, directs her second production after 2018’s Everything You Touch.
“When The Strange Case of Dr. Cher & Mr. Donna was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, we were looking for ways in which WET and Jody could continue creating with one another,” said Director Maggie L. Rogers. “Jody and I were on the phone a lot and we talked about how we could move forward with a digital production in a way that made sense for us. In a moment of frustration, Jody admitted that she didn’t want to do a Zoom performance at all because, ‘I do not want Cherdonna living in my bedroom.’ And that joke became the backbone of the piece. The idea of Jody and Cherdonna living together in a cramped attic studio apartment became the perfect way to explain what it means to be alone with yourself when you are an artist and living with a voice and passion inside of you that cannot be heard or fulfilled. This piece pretty much sums up quarantine: it’s the realization of mortality, the longing for human connection, and the ways in which you begin to create a new life when no one else is watching.”
Rogers continues, “This process is not just new to us in terms of presenting in a digital format, but we’ve also had to make changes to our rehearsal process as well. As the director, most days I am not in the rehearsal room and we have to make collective decisions over email or Facetime. We’re finding out that it’s pushing us to elevate our art-making and think outside of the box. I am proud of the way we can celebrate these challenges and flex our creative muscles.”
The Doll Pit streams online May 21 – June 13, 2021. Tickets are on sale now www.washingtonensemble.org and start at just $5.