Allison Williams is an artist. What she does is theater, and she tries to do it to the best of her abilities. Raised in St. Petersburg, she studied theater at a Chicago University and later returned to her hometown to lead the life of an artist.
Without much success in the area, she moved to Michigan with her husband and partner. She returns to the area where she grew up to do her one-woman show called True Story.
True Story is about six different characters, each accompanied by slightly different music and varying small costume pieces.
Williams got the idea for the story when she taught one of her theater workshops and asked her students to improvise a scene.
“Their performances were safe and dull,” she said. “They said that they didn’t want to overact. They said they wanted to be realistic.”
To induce a more exciting performance from her students, Williams asked them to tell about an amazing experience from their lives. Then they were to interview three people, at least one whom they did not know.
Williams did the same thing, and she incorporated some of the stories she found into her own play.
“I had a series of about seven crappy drafts,” Williams said. “On the first day of the two-week rehearsal process, I changed the play from one to six characters and that’s what made the difference.”
These characters are ordinary people who have something extraordinary happen to them.
“When the show was about one person, it was more like someone whining about life,” she said.
Introducing new characters gave Williams a way to incorporate more acting styles into the play.
“Each of the characters has a different way of walking and talking,” Williams said. “I have to learn to distinguish characters from each other. Each has something of me in them, but none of them are me.”
The characters talk about everything, from death and revenge to getting a date for prom. But it also incorporates fire eating and aerial acrobatics.
“I wanted to incorporate things I already knew how to do into a show, but I didn’t want them to be just tricks,” Williams said. “I wanted them to be a dramatic element that fit a moment in the story.”
Williams says True Story is both a comedy and a drama.
“When I wrote (the play), it was very black,” she said. “I thought it would be a very drab and down show that would make people feel crappy when they leave. But at the first performance people started laughing, and I realized I had written a comedy. There are sections that are sad, funny and (some) black humor.”
But to Williams, one of the most important things about the play is that it inspires.
“The show is about setting down things we emotionally and physically carry,” Williams said. “I’ve actually had people give me some of their things. (Someone) liked a line of the play so much that they had it tattooed. Two girls debated doing the same thing, but actually got it engraved on rings.”
The fact that this is the first time that Williams will perform the play for her family and friends makes her proud.
“I think this is the best thing I’ve ever made,” Williams said. “As an artist you spend all your life making things and this is my best work.”
Williams’ play is her way of taking extraordinary stories and putting them in context of real peoples’ lives. True Story is just that, an accurate depiction of moments and stories of lives.
The only performance for True Story is Sunday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Theatre 1.
Tickets in advance are $8 for adults and $4 for students and seniors and $10 and $5 the day of show.
Contact Olga Robak at firstname.lastname@example.org