Wednesday, December 23, 2009
On "Love, Loss, and What I Wore"
HALLIE: My sisters, Delia and Nora Ephron, have written a wonderful play that’s off-Broadway right now, “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” It’s based on the poignant illustrated book/memoir by Ilene “Gingy” Beckerman. To Gingy’s stories they added lots more, including some that I recognized (Nora and her bottomless purse, Delia and her hot pink Mexican wedding skirt). Even my daughter got into the act, collecting bra stories from her friends.
What is it about women and clothes?
DELIA: we start young. Really it's the first thing we get to chose -- what to wear. Even before we get to decide what we want to eat, our moms let us pick out what we are going to wear that day. So we define ourselves with clothes from the start. And we shop with our mom's and we rebel with clothes when we're teenagers. And don't forget dress-up -- I mean "play," pretending to be other people, clomping around in our mom's high heels.
HALLIE: We’re not talking about “fashion” here, right?
DELIA: Absolutely. Not fashion. This play is about the clothes we wore and the memories they trigger. We always remember what we were wearing when ... we fell in love, broke up, and so on and so forth. The stories of our lives told through our clothing.
HALLIE: Of course, our mother picked our clothes growing up. I don’t know why but the dress I remember you wearing as a child is a dark blue and white striped taffeta dress with a drop waist and a swishy skirt, and a red velvet bow at the neck. Do you remember that dress? I was so happy when I grew into it.
DELIA: Now that's interesting. I thought mom let us pick all our clothes. And that dress -- I die when I see myself in it. I was built like a stick, and that dress required someone with curves. And that bow!
HALLIE: What can I say? It was yours, so I coveted it!
The production features five actresses with a cast that rotates every six weeks or so. I went to see it with a half-dozen friends from college. We saw Rhea Pearlman and her daughter Lucy DeVito, Kristin Chenoweth, Capathia Jenkins, and Rita Wilson. They were so phenomenal and seemed to be having so much fun doing it. Do you get to work with the actresses, and how do you decide which one gets to perform which story?
DELIA: Yes and it is the most fun. We rotate in a new cast every month. Since the play is a collection of stories, with each new cast, we have to decide which actors are right for each piece.
HALLIE: The audience I saw this with was rocking, from the minute the cast walked on stage. Do you get to watch audiences respond and talked with them after they’ve seen the show?
DELIA: The actors love to do the show because the audience -- which is mostly women, since this is the story of women's lives -- are very interactive. What happens is that the show triggers your own memories -- so the audience is having a really personal experience. And often they don't want to leave the theater because they are so busy talking to their friends about their own experiences. But not all audiences are alike -- and no two performances are alike -- so there is always the excitement and anxiety, what will this show be like.
HALLIE: After the show I couldn't stop thinking about clothes. The date decision: whether or not to wear a padded bra. The California shoes that nearly dissolved in a New York City rainstorm my first day at college. Not knowing what to wear to my mother's funeral.
What are the clothes that meant something to you?
DELIA: My crocheted dresses that were so, so short and so so sexy that I used to wear everywhere, even to work, when I was in my twenties. My raspberry silk sweater -- I can see it so clearly -- I wore it on my first date with my husband. I was wearing it when the menu caught fire in the restaurant. Very symbolic.
HALLIE: How about you? Please, tell us about something special and what it meant.