When we first moved to California in October of 2018, I quickly got acquainted with one of the chief reasons we moved to Morongo Valley: the Groves Cabin Theatre is practically in my back yard. I enrolled in an acting class there with a marvelous teacher named Abe Daniels. Dr. Miri Hunter, another esteemed director and the founder of Thought Theatre here in the high desert, came to see the showcase from that acting class and asked if I would join the cast for her production of the staged reading Baptized to the Bone in Joshua Tree. Would I! That experience was such a joy, and led to another Thought Theatre staged reading, How to Bury Your Pets. In addition to the performances in Joshua Tree, we also performed Pets at the second Hi Def Fringe Festival in late August of 2019 where I also premiered my original piece, The Scrummy Bits of SoFonda LeFey.
Next up, I was cast by Abe in Shadow Box early in 2020. I was doing my first play at Groves Cabin! Unfortunately, my back was playing havoc with my well-being then, and I had to make the sensible but devastating decision to bow out. By March, Covid-19 had been declared a national emergency in the U.S. and a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Closures and isolation halted all live theatre in the Morongo Basin, and everywhere else, for that matter. The Hi Def Fringe Festival persevered online. Theatre 29 cautiously re-opened in summer 2021 and had to implement subsequent adjustments due to outbreaks of Covid. And little Groves Cabin?
While resting in its peaceful, remote neighborhood during the pandemic, the tiny theatre fell prey to the elements: one, a siege by rodents and the weather, but much more disturbing, robbery by a criminal element that stole a trailer the theatre used to store props, set pieces, and costumes. In addition, the owner and producer of the Groves was devoid of adequate energy to keep it going. Survival of this gem was in jeopardy.
After some consideration, it was announced that Abe Daniels would assume the reigns and ensure the continued success of this vital and small venue for generations to come. The first show of the season was announced to re-open the theatre in October this year: two one act plays by Edward Albee, The Death of Bessie Smith and Marriage Play. I am beyond honored and delighted to be cast in the role of “Gillian,” the wife, in Marriage Play.
All of this to say, I’d forgotten how wonderful it feels to be in rehearsal for a fully staged play. Incorporating and interpreting the lines, feeding and ingesting energy from another actor as you focus all your attention on the stage around you, the magic of being able to stare into the eyes of your co-performer. I freaking love the rehearsal process. Just as an artist or writer completes a work and then moves on to creating the next, it’s the building process I love.
For anyone supposing, I will tell you that I’m not playing “Gillian” in high drag or for camp effect. This isn’t a comedy. The interpretation we are challenged to present is that of a married couple, one presenting male and one presenting female. The sexuality of the couple is never addressed, and the genders presented are never questioned. It is left to my co-star, Kurt Schauppner, and I to define the 30 year duration of this relationship with Abe’s brilliant direction. Rehearsals have just begun and WOW! It’s exhilarating! It’s going to be a hell of a show. I hope everyone can come to cement the re-opening of the Groves, and to see what we are creating. Check the schedule on my events page for times and dates.
Grey Forge LeFey
©2022 The Artists LeFey LLC