Welcome to Artist Features—an offering from Now & Then that provides depth and insight into the work of our artists. For show info and tickets, visit our box office.
Meet Pamela Sterling
Welcome to our first feature on Pamela Sterling, writer and performer of Louisa May Alcott: The Power of a Woman, an upcoming free, special event in Now & Then's 3rd season. This solo performance will take place Saturday, September 7 at 2PM.
Artistic Director John Perovich spoke with Pam recently about her process, Louisa May Alcott, and advice for writers/performers on creating solo performances.
John Perovich (JP): Can you share with us the process of Louisa May Alcott: The Power of a Woman? When did you start working on the project and what interested you about exploring Alcott?
Pamela Sterling (PS): Like many women, I have felt an affinity for Louisa May Alcott and her famous character Jo March since I was about 10 years old and first read Little Women. Since then, I read most of Alcott's books for young people, as my mother would give me one or two a year for Christmas or my birthday. And while I loved the March trilogy, it was some of Alcott's other books I liked even better. I think An Old Fashioned Girl was my favorite. What drew me to all of Alcott's female protagonists was their independence, honesty, and passion. And very human flaws.
I think I started working on the show (although I didn't know it at the time) when I directed a production of Little Women for the Dallas Children's Theatre in the mid 1990's. In doing my dramaturgical research in preparation for directing the show, I became fascinated by Alcott's "real life," the discovery of her "thrillers" written for adults, and her other books exploring Transcendental philosophy----and her own inner emotional struggles. I began to think that was where a very interesting play resided.
It was more than decade later that I was commissioned to write several plays for Historyonics Theatre in St. Louis, with the mandate that every bit of dialogue had to be primary source material. "More fun than fiction," was their motto. I wrote plays about the first divorce of Henry VIII, Theodore Roosevelt and the Bronte family. Eventually, I was granted my wish to write about the Alcott family. Unfortunately, the theatre dissolved while I was beginning research, so the project was put on hold.
Another five or so years later and I find myself to be an actor "of a certain age." There are not many roles open for someone in my age and gender demographic. So, I began to think about writing a solo play for me to perform, and Alcott came to mind. We have many things in common; both Sagittarius, both writers and actors, both feminists, civil rights activists, both with very supportive mothers and somewhat absent fathers. And we both love cats.
I approached a couple of colleagues about my project and was graciously embraced by Amie Brockway, Artistic Director of the Open Eye Theatre in Margaretville, NY. So with a couple of Herberger Institute research grants, I have spent time in the Harvard University archives (where most of Alcott's material resides), visited Orchard House in Concord where the family lived, and spent time in Boston wandering through the streets and parks that Louisa loved so much. I have written several drafts of the play, two of which were given readings at the Open Eye, with additional revisions presented at ASU, Theatre Artists Studio, and penultimately this weekend, for the Now & Then Creative Company. As a solo play, I have been working on Louisa May and Me (the original title) for at least 6 years.
Stay tuned for our second feature as we dive deeper into Louisa May Alcott and Pam's process. Louisa May Alcott: The Power of a Woman by Pamela Sterling will be presented this Saturday, September 7 at 2PM. Tickets are free and RSVPs can be made by visiting our box office.