The Raleigh Ensemble Players will present a staged reading of Eve Ensler's early play, Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man, March 11-13 at LEGENDS Nightclub in Raleigh, NC. This provocative play about sex and the single girl, set in the "art scene" in New York City, deals with its title character's explorations of love and sexual identity. Ensler later won an OBIE Award for The Vagina Monologues.
"I first read this play last year as part of REP's Artistic Committee," says director Heather Willcox. "I was actually trying to locate a different play by another author and could only find a copy of it in an anthology of women playwrights. One day I was at work and started flipping through the rest of the anthology when Eve Ensler's name caught my eye. I read Floating Rhoda [and] fell in love and wound up presenting it to the Artistic Committee a couple of nights later."
Willcox adds, "I love the story and the characters — there are themes present throughout the play that resonate deeply within me and my personal life and so it became a story that I not only wanted to tell but needed to tell. I also love Ensler's use of theatricality in the production — how some characters have stand-ins that take over for them in a scene.
"At the start of the play, Willcox explains, "we meet Rhoda (Lynne Guglielmi), Barn (Joe Brack) and their respective stand-ins (Kelly Lowery and Thaddaeus Edwards) at an art gallery where Barn has an exhibition. There is an instant connection; and as we move forward, we watch Rhoda and Barn struggle to keep their feet on the ground as they and those around them (SaRAH! Kocz, Andrea Maddox, Thomas Porter, and David Harrell) explore love, connection, and sexual identity."
Staging Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man will present considerable creative challenges for director Heather Willcox and the REP production team, which includes scenic and costume designer Miyuki Su and lighting designer Jon Harper.
Willcox claims, "The first major challenge that we had to overcome was taking a play that is so physical in nature and produce it effectively as a staged reading. In the play, Rhoda says, 'It's all about connecting.' This sparked the idea of trying to tell the story in a way in which all the characters struggle to remain connected to at least one other character at all times. Trying to move through the piece in this style presented a number of challenges as well."
She notes, "The script calls for a specific image to be present in the space at all times. This image was created on a panel made up of pages from the script that were covered in vellum. There are six other panels in the space treated in the same manner that are representative of different locales that we visit throughout the play.
"In early discussions of the play," Willcox recalls, "we tried to determine a controlling image and what we chose was an image of a bruise. The costumes are all in the palette of a bruise — layers of blues, purples, greens, and burgundies."
Warning: The production contains adult content.
Raleigh Ensemble Players presents Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man Thursday-Saturday, March 11-13, at 8 p.m. at LEGENDS Nightclub, 330 W. Hargett St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $8 (free to REP Pass holders). 919/832-9607, TTY: 919/835-0624, or http://www.realtheatre.org/RHODAreservation.htm. Note: The March 12 performance will be audio described and sign language interpreted, with large-print and Braille programs available. Raleigh Ensemble Players: http://www.realtheatre.org/pages/2004/shows/rhoda2004two.htm. Eve Ensler: http://www.vday.org/contents/vday/aboutvday/eveensler.