Lis Kalogris hears a live performance of the IN MY BODY song written by Michael Biello and Dan Martin. She has spent the better part of her life feeling miserable about her body. As she listens to the lyrics, she weeps and cheers because the song is an amazing anthem to finding home in our bodies. Song struck.
Lises husband and son-in-law are in a near-fatal car crash. Lis still has nightmares about mangled Humpty Dumpties lying in hospital beds. And, until recently, she wouldn’t (couldn’t) admit to herself she has used IN MY BODY to help reconcile her closeted PTSD. Self-serving old bitch.
Her daughter Ali encourages Lis to check out an exhibition of waxed, sculpted, painted photographs by Leah Macdonald. Lis does this. In these art works Lis finds stories about people living in their bodies with beauty, joy, aging, trauma, pride, loathing, love. Lises brain connects with her soul and, together Lis, her brain and her soul, envision a multi-arts body project—the song, the crash, the photographs. Synergy.
Lis invites her daughter Kate, and Michael and Dan, and Leah, and Melanie Stewart, Melissa Hays, Aubrey Hays, Lewis Wexler, Sherri Wexler, Sienna Freeman, Michele Amicucci, and Rachel Zimmerman—all brilliant wonderful crazy people—to collaborate with her in developing a multi-arts project about body image and body culture. The I becomes the we. We hold a body workshop, a body roundtable, an exhibition of Leah’s work at Wexler Gallery with an integrated song cycle, two mini-performances, featuring Melanie Stewart, Megan Mazarick, Bethany Formica, and Shavon Norris, with an inLiquid exhibition at the Painted Bride. We conduct too many interviews. We document everything. It’s done. Really?
“Who am I kidding?,” Lis tells her mirror. “We must keep the body conversation going!” And so, armed with an undying passion for the Arts, post-menopausal testosterone and a ton of raw material from the IN MY BODY project, Lis cons Michael, Kate, Melissa and Dan to join her in writing a new musical—the IN MY BODY musical. And, of course, Lis holds on tight to the stories Leah’s photographs reveal. Begin.
Five writers writing. Sharing. Loving. Weeping. Reading. Adding. Whining. Cutting. Hurting. Bitching. Writing. Arguing. Stressing. Adjusting. Barbing. Complaining. Hugging. Loving. Writing. Writing. Writing. Loving.
In August Flying Bulldog holds a retreat in the End of the Beginning Garden with Dan Martin, Michael Biello, Sheryl Kaller (Tony nominated director), Fred Lassen (music director), Robin Burdulis, Susan Jacks, Sheri Sanders, Jonathan Brody, Jillian Louis, Eleonore Thomas (an original from the Project), Kelly Karcher, Javier Muñoz, April Woodall, Justyn Wade, Joanna Volpe, Jenny Hickman, Amy Baitinger, Lis, Kate and Melissa. Wowie. The garden lovingly sucks up all the music, lyrics, words, love. These things will always be there in the garden.
Changing. Revising. Writing, et al. You know the rest. We do a little table reading with Javier, April, Jillian, Kelly, Howie Michael Smith and Jordi Wallen (an original from the Project.) Are we kidding? There is no such thing as “little.”
Early in the year, we hold a staged reading for an invited audience of over two hundred friends and family at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Philadelphia. Bill Fennelly directs actors April Woodall, Rob Tucker, Tamara Anderson, Jillian Louis, Javier Muñoz, Donnie Hammond and Jeff Koons who rock that Church with music director Fred Lassen, percussionist Robin Burdulis and cellist Anthony Pirollo. One hundred and sixty people fill out our post-show questionnaires. Others email us. Lots of helpful feedback. FYI, family and friends never hold back. Thank you. In the Fall, we’re invited by Cabrini University to give an IN MY BODY mini-concert at their first National Undergraduate Conference on Body Image. Music director Andrew Hanley and actors Rob Tucker, Karina Balfour (an original from the Project), Donnie Hammond and April Woodall sing and speak about body issues of interest to college students.
Feeling ready to workshop IN MY BODY, we invite Kathryn (KC) Macmillan to be our director/dramaturg. For this, we eternally thank Erin Reilly (Artistic Director of Theatre Horizon) who advocated to KC about our show. We rent a space in the Hamilton Family Arts Center and work like fiends on our show with HAMILTON star Javier Muñoz, Jonathan Brody, April Woodall, Donnie Hammond and Katie Zaffrann. Ed Bell, Robin Burdulis, and Anthony Pirollo round out the musicians. Steven P.Nemphos, Chelsea Sanz and our two interns Ava Defrancesco and Kris Karcher provide production support.
November 9. The day after Election Day. IN MY BODY came to fruition at Prince Theater with Director Kathryn Macmillan; Music Director Chris Burcheri; Stage Manager Chelsea Sanz; actors Donnie Hammond, Katie Zaffrann, April Woodall, Austin Ku, and Michael Indeglio and “knock your socks off” creative and production teams. The end of the beginning…