Last fall, we asked Y members an intriguing question… Wanna be in a show? Y member Josee Lavoie Falcone said “Yes!” and has joined an extraordinary group of people with the AfterWork Theater Project taking our stage over the next few weeks, some for the first time in a long time, and others, for the first time ever. AfterWork’s mission is to bring fun, community, and creative self-expression to anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of their productions, and over the next year, they will become the Y’s first Adult Theater Education partner.
Josee is taking the stage for the first time in 20 years in the moving play, The Laramie Project, a breathtaking theatrical collage that explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion of which we are capable. The Laramie Project is about a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, Matthew Shepard, who was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming because he was gay.
Learn more about Josee, her prior acting experience, and her time here at the 14th Street Y. Also, check her out in the Laramie Project with the AfterWork Theater Project at the 14th Street Y, Friday, January 31st through Sunday, February 2nd.
Q: Have you ever done theater before? If you have when was the last time? If you haven’t, why now?
I loved the theater as a child and read a lot of plays. I still know by heart the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet that I taught myself when I was 12.
As a teen, I was part of a group that earned a grant to write a play. We rented an apartment for the purpose and had many wintry get-togethers where we had a meeting of the minds, then all-out shout fests followed by resolution. Truly great.
I also was in a play, as a teen, by the Quebecois playwright Michel Tremblay. I played an outrageous, outspoken diva named Brigitte. Not Juliet, but wonderful, campy joy. The first man I ever loved was “the musician” in that play.
I haven’t done any theater since then, and that was 20 years ago, so when this opportunity came up, my husband urged me to be a part of it.
Q: How else have you been involved with the 14th Street Y?
I love the fitness classes and their wide array and have had a couple of personal training sessions. Thanks to Becky Skoff, we also got the chance to see the wonderful Jake Goodman in Kaddish. We plan on being much more active attendees of the events at the Y. We just weren’t aware of all that goes on here. And, of course, AWTP is a case in point.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a part of Afterwork?
It’s more than a little clichéd but it remains true that it’s the people who make an endeavor more or less worthwhile. We have a great team for the Laramie project and I am very happy to have gotten to know them all a little bit. I love our team. Lee Kasper, our director, is very talented. He always makes the right call–really!–which is sometimes deep-nod inducing, sometimes a bit startling, like when a new way of seeing suddenly becomes manifest. It’s a bit of a thrill to watch!
It is also quite a learning experience to watch professionals put a show together. While we may be producing “amateur” productions, nothing about the process feels amateurish. Lee and Devan, our Stage Manager, are exacting and there is great passion on everyone’s part to put on the best piece we can. It’s most interesting to witness all of the little complexities and background noise that goes into putting something like this on its feet and before an audience. I’m also learning the lingo.
Q: What role/roles are you playing? How do you get into character?
One of my roles is a university professor. Aside from the usual mnemonics, I just have to imagine the fear and the outrage that she would feel, as a prominent lesbian in a town where a gay hate crime has just been committed, and her second-guessing her decision to come to this town, thereby potentially placing herself, her child and her partner at risk. My other role is more of a challenge: I have a few lines as a homophobic male rancher. It’s tough to get those lines out! I throw myself into the body of a cud chewing, tobacco spitting, er, limited person with the kinds of opportunities attendant to that. He’s a cliché too, but he’s real, literally and in the wider sense.
Q: What do you love about the 14th Street Y?
There is so much to love. The programs that keep growing, the arts opportunities, the sense of community, whether you are Jewish or not. To my great pleasure, the Y turns out to be a treasure trove that I did not rightfully explore until now.
Q: What are we going to see you performing in next?
My manager is currently negotiating that; I’m not at liberty to say. 😉
Check out Josee in the Laramie Project with the AfterWork Theater Project at the 14th Street Y, Friday, January 31st through Sunday, February 2nd.