Things Unseen Theatre presents Ephrons’ play on clothing, emotions

The clothing someone wears can say a lot about them, and in that regard, a local theater company is speaking volumes.

Things Unseen Theatre is showing “Love, Loss and What I Wore” at its venue, The Church in the Middle of the Block, tonight, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“The actual script was written by [the late] Nora Ephron, who [was] very well known as a screen writer, and her sister, Delia, and it was based on this little sketch-type book that [Ilene Beckerman] had done where she was remembering clothing of her past. She drew these little pictures and told little anecdotes and so forth. So they took upon that and then they extended it and created this play,” said Valerie Stratton, the theatre’s co-artistic director.

The hour-and-a-half show is a readers’ theater offering a series of short monologues and episodes where the actors interact, Stratton said.

“Anybody who knows Nora Ephron, the author, will recognize her work because she [was] a contemporary American humorist and [wrote] of issues that we can all relate to, and we can all smile about, issues that are as applicable actually to women as they are to men,” said Elizabeth Happeny, who has appeared in several Things Unseen Theatre productions and will appear in one of the performances of “Love, Loss and What I Wore.”

“I am one of five women who deliver monologues about growing up and adjusting to certain items of clothing or styles of clothing,” she said.

The women represent different stages in life where issues such as buying a bra for the first time and wearing a costume or outfit one’s mom picked out are important to her, Happeny said.

“Just remembering something that my grandmother used to wear, remembering a dress I got married in, a little segment about prom dresses and there are some that are very sad because they’re about loss and so forth … And there’s one segment about a woman with breast cancer and how these all connect in our mind with our clothing,” Stratton said. “It’s just a very nice piece that I saw in New York a couple years ago and just loved it, and [thought] it would be something that … would be so perfect for us to do here.”

The play emotionally moved Stratton, she said.

“Yes, I was very moved by it, and I knew that all women can relate to it and as we’ve been doing our rehearsals it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one who felt that way!’ and ‘Oh my goodness, I remember that as well!’ I mean, we’re all just reacting to it,” she said. “But men will enjoy it too. I don’t want people to get the impression that only women should come and see this, because we had our light technician guy [at rehearsal] last week and he was laughing away at it, as well. They’ll certainly be able to understand it and maybe learn more about how women relate to their clothing.”

The show will have a different cast each performance, and featured celebrity guess are WTAJ news anchor Carolyn Donaldson tonight, Penn State Altoona Chancellor Lori Bechtel-Wherry on Friday, WPSU-FM producer Kristine Allen on Saturday and retired Blair County commissioner Donna Gority on Sunday, Stratton said.

Tonight, jewelry will be for sale and a silent auction will be held for such donated items as gift cards for a pedicure and massage. On Sunday, jewelry will be for sale and chair massages will be available.

Wine is also served at the shows.

Director Jody Hesley, who is also the theater’s co-artistic director and will announce scenes during the show, said the show has an even tone as far as his male perspective balancing out the female’s.

Men have an opportunity “to understand women maybe a little bit better and things that maybe traumatize women throughout their lives,” he said.

The theatre company targets audiences whose voices often go unheard, he said.

This show “is definitely targeted toward women and the struggles women go through that men aren’t aware [of],” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.