I hope you’ve heard by now about Your Real Stories, Inc., the St. Pete non-profit dedicated to sharing the “compelling authentic stories of real people” through the medium of “theatrical journalism.” I’ve written about them before, and the redoubtable Bill DeYoung just did an excellent story about them for St. Pete Catalyst. But I don’t know if I’ve emphasized enough how ingenious, or how invaluable, their work is. Dr. Lillian Dunlap, a journalist, and Jaye Sheldon, a theatrical polymath, interview people with intriguing life stories and transform those stories into monologues for local actors, who in turn “become” the interviewees on stage — often with the “real” people in the audience. It’s a remarkable roundelay of empathy, and god knows we can use more of that these days.
Coming up tonight may be one of the most compelling pairings of story and actor yet: a script based upon an interview with St. Petersburg social worker Neil Broome, one of the original members of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), performed by the brilliant Larry Alexander, whose anguished monologue as an AIDS activist in freeFall’s The Normal Heart a few years back is seared into the memory of many local theatergoers. Broome will be present for a post-show discussion with the audience. It’s all part of the “Off the Wall” series, in which we learn the stories behind the people whose photos are on the wall of Your Real Stories’ gallery in the ArtsXchange.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for event registration, cash bar and a tour of the Your Real Stories Gallery & Studio. Event begins at 7 p.m. ArtsXchange, 515 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg, yourrealstories.blog, or on Facebook.