Actress, writer tells life story with new one-woman show
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The Pittsburgh Playhouse REP Professional Company is starting 2017 off strong with a unique performance of a one-woman show about the struggles an all-American family faces when dealing with special needs. “Woody’s Order!” is a biographical play written and performed by Ann Talman and directed by John Shepard.
Ann Talman takes on multiple characters in “Woody’s Order!” as she exposes her life story and her fight between what is right and what she loves. “Woody’s Order!” explores the complex relationships that exist in a family that includes a special needs member, Talman’s brother, Woody, who lives with cerebral palsy.
“It is not about this person, it is not about [Ann’s] career,” said Zane Wagner, assistant director of the play. “Her idea is that when Woody passes away she wants people to be able to meet her brother.”
“Woody’s Order!” displays the timeline of Talman’s life from being born, destined to be Woody’s caretaker, to taking Broadway by storm. She wants to express the lesson that it is possible to care for family while also taking care of oneself.
“No matter how much you love someone who is helpless, you cannot live their life for them,” Talman said, explaining the internal conflict she has lived with regarding her brother.
“Woody’s Order!” is an opportunity for students to witness the passion and success from someone who was pushed down and fought back harder. This show can renew the dedication in students and teach them lessons in perseverance.
Ann Talman said she wants the students to take away that it is okay to put family first.
“I had to put my career on hold to make choices because I loved my family,” Talman said. “I don’t regret it; I would do the same thing over. It was incredibly difficult at the time and there were moments that I resented it. But it made me a better person; therefore it made me a better actress, a better writer.”
Wagner also pulls the relatability and importance of family from the show.
“We are all part of a family,” Wagner said. “By the end [of the show] you will feel so good because you see this struggle from so many of the characters but at the end you feel relieved because it turns out okay. It sheds hope and light onto situations that can be pretty hard.”
Shephard, who has worked with Talman in the past, admires her commitment to both her career and her brother and interprets the show as a lesson.
“I hope the audience will identify and empathize [with the show],” Shepard said. “Because despite everyone’s experiences in life, we share common threads and I think that is one of the great things about theatre. We all share that moment in the same space at the same time.”
The show opens in the Studio Theater at the Pittsburgh Playhouse on Feb. 3 and will run until Feb. 19. Tickets range from $10-$29 and can be purchased at the Playhouse’s box office at 222 Craft Ave. or by calling at (412)-392-8000.
Following the performances on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m., there will be a talk back with the playwright. These talk backs are a way for the audience to ask questions about the show, process and life of Ann Talman. There will be an ASL Interpretive performance provided on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.