I recently dipped back into solo theater after a 10 year break. I didn’t make the return any easier by choosing a difficult story to tell. Still, in spite of a few fumbles and stumbles, I feel pretty good about this performance of “Rich Bitch,” a short work-in-progress I did at The Marsh in San Francisco last month. It was one of four pieces presented by Charlie Varon’s students in a workshop show. The video is by Erik Holsinger.
When I hear my fellow Americans describe our country as “classless” I am always surprised. The American Dream is a story about upward mobility. To unpack the baggage of class is really tough in a culture where money is God.
I knew I was going to have to examine my own class privilege to tell this story, but I was rudely surprised by the relentless challenges throughout the process. Fortunately, Charlie Varon is a great teacher of autobiographical work. He’s gifted in guiding students into and out of the blind spots, and I’m grateful to him and the class for all their support.
It’s a well-known paradox among writers that the more personal a story is, the more universal it is. “Rich Bitch” is the story of a friendship that disintegrated over class (money) issues. The running time is 22 minutes, and since I know many people probably won’t have time to watch it, I’ll ask you to consider this instead.
Is there someone you’ve lost touch with simply because of money issues? Maybe someone you know lost their job, their identity and self esteem too, and they’re struggling to survive in the “safety net.” Or, maybe you know someone whose income skyrocketed, and they’re up there somewhere in the economic stratosphere having weird problems you might only aspire to have.
Whatever the case, if you miss them in your life, please consider checking in.
There are many legitimate reasons to break away from people. But fear, envy, or embarrassment often can be manageable emotions. Can the issues be worked through? It might be worth trying.
In this age of serious political and economic upheaval, Gloria Steinem’s axiom still holds true. “The personal is political.” Even small actions can have large consequences.
Hey, if all of us good guys can stick together, the bad guys will not win!