I met Gin Hammond in a stage reading that we did over a year ago. At the end of the play, we talked about possible future projects we each had in our midst, when she brought up Nemesis. “It starts out at a party after the Trojan War, when a tipsy guest stumbles in. She’s charming and funny, you instantly like her. She begins to gossip about the party, acting as the various guests. And then she begins to pulls the rug out from under you…” (There is of course more to this story within the play, but I’m not spoiling the surprise.) She was so enthusiastic as she talked about it, telling me the various ideas she had in directing this play. “We should do this together. We just have to find the right place for it,” she said. I went home thinking about the challenge of working a one woman show, knowing that it terrified me. The following week, we both went back to work, back to classes at Freehold, back to working on other projects. I thought the conversation had ended.
When I got the first email about the Incubator Studio Series, I forwarded it to Gin with one comment: “Nemesis?” I received a resounding, “YES.” Now, to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t read the play, but knowing how driven she was to work on this and how she described it, I had a feeling it was a good script. I was wrong. It is a GREAT script. Within the first couple of rehearsals, Gin brought Melissa Topscher on board as assistant director. We rehearsed every Tuesday afternoon, at Freehold. Tuesdays quickly began my favorite day of the week because it meant I got to step into Nemesis and her complicated world.
Rachel Aspinwall, the playwright, has created an interesting, funny, conflicted character. She is someone who is hyper-aware of how others see her, sometimes even losing herself to their perception as an escape from the person she knows she is. One of the best things about this play is that this is a story that is female focused and female driven. Since it’s a story about war, it questions what we are afraid to lose and what we gain as the result of conflict. We discussed and explored the various types of friendships and alliances that arise during war time. The women that appear through the play are smart, adventurous, and generous. I can say the same thing about working with Gin and Melissa, who helped me overcome my fear doing a one-woman play. To me this was the biggest challenge, having never done it before. That in the end it’s you alone in front a black box with people watching, no one else on your side. Gin and Melissa helped me create invisible allies to have on my side when in that black box. Some rehearsals we danced, others we played with our vocal ranges, unlocking characters as we went. Though I was still nervous (okay, I’ll admit it: still scared), I was very excited for the Studio Series. I was excited for others to meet Nemesis and my other invisible allies.
Both nights of performances had packed audiences, who were receptive and energetic. I felt like I was dancing underwater, it was hard, focused work, but yet I could feel like I was gliding through. I couldn’t be more thankful for Freehold and the wonderful, supportive Freehold community to have given this opportunity to myself and other artists to dip our toes in the deep end with new material that inspires us. I’m now even more excited to continue with this project and see where it takes Gin, Melissa, and I. Do not worry if you didn’t get meet to Nemesis; she’ll be back.
Ana Maria performed Nemesis this past weekend at Freehold's INCUBATOR Studio Series.