I couldn’t let the latest Yellow Rose production, “Fiction,” go by without some comment. Staged in the Square Room, it was the second effort from this new company which I profiled here a few weeks ago. The Square Room is doing some very good things and hosting this company is one of them. Kenny Woodhull does the booking, often making an appearance to welcome the crowd before events.
I couldn’t make the Friday night production, but word on Facebook suggested it was an excellent and intimate experience. Word seemed to have spread sufficiently that the Saturday night crowd seemed quite large to me. Not every seat was filled, but it appeared to me around 200 people were in attendance. I went by myself but, as is so often the case in our little city, friends arrived and we enjoyed the play together.
Danielle Roos, co-founder of Yellow Rose Productions introduced the play, thanking various people for their help in making it happen. She pointed out that this second production would be followed by another May 30th. More on that later.
“Fiction,” written by Steven Dietz is a provocative work mining the depths and intersections of truth and fiction. Michael, played wonderfully by Erik Schiller begins by giving a version of meeting his wife that is charming and romantic and totally a fabrication of his memory. Twenty years pass, both have become well-known writers, and his wife is dying. She asks to read his diaries before she dies and he agrees. Predictably she finds infidelity. Was their marriage just another fiction. He insists the journal is not truth, but fiction. The affair didn’t happen. But a journal is true, right?
The woman with whom he has the affair – or not – shows up to tell the wife, goodbye. Linda, the wife, played with intense and perfect emotion by Kerri Koczen, inexplicably gives one of her own journals to Abby, brilliantly portrayed by Lizzie Wouters, the woman with whom her husband had an affair. The journal, we later learn reveals that her book, supposed to be non-fiction, wasn’t her story, it was Abby’s and Linda stole it. When Linda dies, Michael refuses to give her journal to the university which would expose her lie.
My favorite works of fiction – or non-fiction – are the ones I can’t put down or walk away from. They follow me, haunt me, make me think. I live with the characters, consider their flaws and complicated relationships. In turn I consider my own life with a slightly different perspective. It’s easy to convince ourselves of convenient fictions. We often foist fictions onto others knowingly or not. What’s true of ourselves? Do we know? In the quiet darkness can we even sort it out or are we so far into our self-constructed fictions that we can find our way to the truth?
I have to commend Danielle and Kerri, Erik and Lizzie (as well as Kelsey Broyles, Stage Manager) for offering such a high quality dramatic experience, for bringing this story to life and inspiring more than a little introspection along the way.
If you missed this one, you’ll get a chance to see them in action May 30, but brace yourself. These women aren’t working to make you comfortable. Underscoring their desire to focus on issues of social justice, the next production will be written by Kerri and Danielle and will unveil the story of a woman forced into sex trafficking and living in Knoxville. It’s a true story and promises to be yet another haunting production. I hope you’ll mark it on your calendar.