Lauren Weedman returns to Boise Contemporary Theater

Theater artist looks for answers as she sorts through life.

September 13, 2013 

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Lauren Weedman is adamant about her onstage style, and that means working without a script.



    2 and 8 p.m. Sept. 21 and 28, Boise Contemporary Theater, 854 Fulton St. $25. 331-9224, Ext. 205; Season opening party: 6 p.m. Sept. 14. $100 at 331-9224.

Actress Lauren Weedman loves to work out a big life decision onstage in her own particular kinetic, insightful and biting fusion of improv and theater. And now that 3-year-old Leo has entered the picture, she’s doing it for two.

“This is the first time ever that I’ve wanted to do something, and I have to consider someone else,” Weedman says.

Weedman will bring her fast-paced wit and wacky wisdom to Boise Contemporary Theater to create “Boise, You Don’t Look a Day Over 149,” a new play — well, let’s not go that far — let’s call it a theatrical experience.

“This is an experiment,” Weedman says. “This show ... it’s just story, story, story … and if I get to the end and there’s a play, then I’ll write one. It’s very I don’t know ... that’s why I have to come someplace that knows me to create it.”

Weedman will perform four shows over two weekends as a BCT season extra Sept. 21 and 28. She also will be appearing at the annual Season Opening Celebration on Sept. 14.

This is the third one-woman show Weedman has performed at BCT. The first, “Bust” in 2007, originated in Portland and was based on Weedman's time as a volunteer in an L.A. County Jail.

It was a hit and Matthew Cameron Clark, BCT Productions artistic director, commissioned a second show in 2011.

In “No, You Shut Up” Weedman explored her personal history as a starting point for her narrative. That journey started with her own narrative of being adopted and looking for a sense of family, and ended with her realization that she wanted to have a baby. She married her longtime partner Jeff Weatherford, and enter Leo.

Slowly, the realization that Santa Monica, Calif., isn’t the best place to raise a child has sunk in.

“L.A. is a ridiculous place to have a kid grow up,” she says. “I should get him out of there but I have no fantasy of where to go.”

On the other side of the coin, things are going great in her career. Weedman’s resume includes “The Daily Show,” “Arrested Development,” HBO’s “HUNG,” and Judd Apatow’s “A Five Year Engagement.”

She recently was cast as a series regular in a new HBO comedy “Looking.” Created by Michael Lannan, it films in San Francisco.

So, now what?

Weedman took this question with her to Portland when she received a commission for a theater festival to write a show about Portland. The more she talked to people for her source material, they “were constantly selling the city to me as a place to live,” she says. “Lauren, you’ll love this, and kids love that and berry picking …”

That gave her the idea for the show about “What if I moved here?”

The commission included a reading before she opened, which doesn’t really fit into her improv-heavy way of working.

“I don’t work from a script,” she says.

Weedman uses her own biography as a template for her plays. She keeps a journal and from it culls category cards, “like ‘overheard,’ ‘characters,’ ‘moments,’ ‘images,’ also have a category for ‘what’s happening with me’,” she says. “I’m always monitoring myself, like it’s a medical condition.”

So, for her “reading,” Weedman put her phone on the stage and set the timer for 90 minutes. She laid her cards out and set up sound cues with things recorded on her phone.

“I just did random improv, riffing off my cards — it was story, story, story for an hour and a half,” she says. “It was super fun for me, so present — theater in the moment and completely improv and exciting.”

And it was a hit with the audience. The theater asked her to do the entire run that way.

“For 10 weeks, are you kidding? That would be impossible,” she says.

In Portland she did come up with a script; in Boise that will not be the goal. She spent a week in Boise earlier this month — with Leo — journaling, interviewing and gathering her source material. Now, she’s got her cards, her phone and she’s ready to go.

Her four performances at BCT will be this crazy, improv-driven experience in which she will throw herself into the theatrical frying pan in front of an audience.

Using her own narrative as fodder sounds indulgent, and perhaps it is, she admits, but the process of self examination is less about her ego and more about the old saw: Write what you know.

“Anything I would say at this point would sound pretentious, like I was applying for an arts residency or something — I believe the journey of the human life is an artistic mission (speaking in an affected voice). But that’s the truth, I do,” Weedman says.

“I feel the stories of my life are just stories of a human. I still get affected and hurt, but I see it from this distance. It’s like ‘That’s funny, I had a reaction there,’ she says. “I think of it as a lifetime, not just my life ... that when I’m gone it’s my stories that will be left behind — not like they’ll be in our folklore or anything. This is an examining of being alive.”

Weedman would like to take this formula on the road and repeat this process in other cities. Des Moines, anyone?

It would be an interesting theatrical enterprise, she says — and she just might find a new homebase in the process.

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