A week ago I defended my 394 page dissertation while wearing three inch black heels. The heels made all the difference. The year prior I'd been in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis, so to walk in and face my committee from my high-heeled perch without even teetering
signified (to me) the progress I hoped I had also made in creative nonfiction. Clicking my heels worked: I passed with distinction and was set free from cogs of the University Machine (after four belabored years). Less than a week later--in my new freedom--I was able catch the premiere of Quality: The Shoe Play
which runs Thursdays thru Sundays until April 25th and is set--get this
--at Terra Firma
, one of Nob Hill’s best boutique shoe stores.
The fact that the play is site-specific was hugely intriguing to me conceptually, and in reality, the strange, wavy, inverted version of theater-in-the-round that took place in the shoestore succeeded perfectly.
And once again, I had an excuse to wear heels! How could I not
dress up for the Tricklock
production, especially when I had shoes in my closet I had never yet "gone pulic" with----strappy gilded things with fake jewels and metalic reflective heels! Part tacky, part gawdy, part sheer loveliness. Ahhhh, I put them with a T-shirt, overalls, and a shrinkydink necklace.
My friend Kris Mills (maker of the shrinkydink jewelry
) who joined me in the dress-up for the show wore her "special" boots--but she wore them like lingerie. Visible beneath the hem of her pants legs were only practical black toes, buckles, square heels. Until she lifted her trousers for me, I had no idea the boots went all the way up to the knee!!! She pulled a sneaky one over on everyone...I was apalled at her modesty--and envious.
Dress-up (or dress-down) is the only way to appreciate this show. Women's lives are deeply riddled with shoe-stories or the avoidance of them. The play illuminates these stories with impeccable humor and vivisecting precision, veritably raising the shoe and the meaning of the shoe, into a new consciousness, a consciousness that gave me flashbacks.
I sat in the high fashion theater as if about to be fitted for new shoes and I remembered:
1. The clogs I removed next to my smoking '73 Chevy C-10, before running, as fast as I could, shoes-in-hand, up Central to get to a payphone after ditching my truck. (Barefoot was speedier, only midly painful, and definitely preferable to fending off a bunch of propositions...)
2. The steel-toed workboots I wore when I used to do construction and which a beloved dog ultimately ate down to the metal.
3. The brown boots I "needed" for a gig (recently) and so I ran into a store, grabbed my size off the shelf, paid, drove an hour, went to change into my outfit right before the performance, and realized I'd bought two right feet!!!
4. The square-toed cowboy boots I ordered online that I didn't realize came with "fake mud" painted on the edges, as if I didn't have plenty of mud around my house down three miles of dirt roads in Deer Valley. (Perhaps when I move to the city in May I'll appreciate the "authentic" touch more...)
5. The platform shoes my friend Lee Wilson (now passed) was "pegged" as having worn in the 1970s by an acupuncturist in the 1990s.
I'm digressing from the theater response. And I'm happy to be digressing. What my digression means is that the show made me think. That's the only kind of art/theater/poetry I like. "Wow" means little or nothing unless it's accompanied by further questioning and thought. Here I got the "Wow" but then the play also ripped the lid off a whole box of questions that are larger than my size nine foot. I'm left pondering the role of class, Roxanne vs. Pippa so to speak. My immediate sympathies were heartily for the quirky shoe-apprentice Pippa (played hilariously by Summer Olsson) but then I got drawn into the larger dialogue and found more (uncomfortable) empathy than I ever could have expected with Roxanne (flawlessly
portrayed by Elsa Menendez).
Heartstrings aside, the play hit into deep territory every artist must traverse and navigate according to our own aesthetic compass. I'm left really wondering where I stand in the rift between high art (or high fashion) and art for the masses. As a previously self-proclaimed "pamphleteer" and proponent of "guerilla" literature, I was suprised at what the show was making me question and feel. Surprise is good.
Go get some.
The only real drag about the show was that when the director Kathleen Weiss (
who was in the audience) was introduced, she didn't stand up, and so--curseword--I didn't get to put a face to the person who had worked so deftly with assistant director Dodie Montgomery to pull off a really intriguing site-specific show. I did however get to see the playwright, Elaine Avila
, and when I got back to my car, in salute, I took off my heels and changed back into my sneakers. Quality: The Shoe Play
is good, riveting, compelling fun--a luxurious script...
Try the play on for size and see if it fits you:
APR 8th- APR 25th
at the Terra Firma Shoe Store in Nob Hill, 113 Carlisle
(At Carlisle and Silver, Nob Hill Business Center)
For Reservations or More Information
Call the Tricklock Company Office: 505-254-8393