It requires a true gift to perform against yourself, to divide characters up in the mind and then call upon those different personas at a moment's notice. Think Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor's dinner scene, but without cameras, without makeup, and with just one stage.
That's the structure and essence of the Millibo Art Theatre's brand-new Solo Works Festival, which features three solo performers well-trained in creating an entire atmosphere with just the power of their expression. MAT patrons may recognize Peter Davison (Tossed & Found, Jan. 8 through 11) and Bill Bowers (Stories From the Road, Jan. 22 through 25) from past visits. And there's a new face — Shana Cordon — who, like the others, has worked her way through fringe theater festival circuits. Her Dancing With Demons: A Fractured Fairytale runs Jan. 15 through 18.
Originally from California's Bay area, Cordon moved to Boulder nine years ago to rejuvenate her passion for the performing arts. "Of course from the time I was a child, I always wanted to be an actor," she says. "At the time, what acting meant to me was Hollywood and red carpets and Academy Awards, but as I grew up and continued to be involved in theater performance I learned a little about the actual industry and wasn't really attracted to that particular part of the industry."
Dismayed by her prospects, Cordon moved away from performing arts for several years in her 20s, and became a graphic designer instead. "I felt that was a very pragmatic, normal job, but ultimately I was never really happy doing it and I always missed the stage. So at some point I decided to really just go for it."
That's what brought her to the Rockies and to a re-immersion in playwriting and performing via the Naropa University MFA program in Boulder. Currently a physical theater instructor at the Boulder Ballet School, she still finds time to perform internationally.
Dancing With Demons is Cordon's first self-authored solo show, and in it she explores the traditional hero's journey. "There are about nine characters in the show," she says, "but there are three premier characters: Nate, the young, innocent adventurer; Brea, the warrior princess; and one simply called the Gremlin, the archetypal bad guy. But throughout the show we find that one of them challenges the traditional form of storytelling and steps outside of the story and talks to the audience directly ... This makes this character a bit more three-dimensional, and kind of breaks the linear story of the hero's journey.
"I'm just really looking forward to people in Colorado Springs to come out and watch the show and enjoy the purity of a solo performance."