Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ree Merrill: "A Broken Barbie"

Anyone who has ever lived in New York City understands the stressful-yet-comical daily struggle of making your way through this unpredictable town. From living on friends couches to stopping to order food amidst a crisis to sharing an apartment with three other NYC implants, the experiences may differ in details, but are overall strikingly similar, leaving residents both new and seasoned with stories to share for generations to come.

Such is the story of “A Broken Barbie,” a humorous, heartwarming parody based loosely on the experience of moving to New York from the South that marks actress Ree Merrill’s playwriting debut. The play, centered on the storyline of four friends living in a New York City apartment, highlights the dichotomy of their relationship and the importance of accepting people, while giving audiences a taste of what happens in the worst-case scenario of these personalities colliding. Merrill, who lives and works in New York, came up with the concept randomly while reflecting on a simple memory of a childhood toy.

“One day I was thinking about this doll I had when I was younger that my brother destroyed… Why did I remember her? Because of what happened to her- it was very traumatic,” Ree explains of the idea of a “broken Barbie,” laughing lightly. “It’s funny how as people we try to be perfect and look a certain way, but what makes you remember people, take relationships beyond surface level, and care for and love a friend, are the bad things, the things from the past, the things they’ve been through.”

The play, rounded out by a four-person cast consisting of Merrill, Wendell Jordan, Richard Bryson, and Sailor Verdes, will make its debut at The Strawberry One-Act Festival on August 13, 2009 at 9:00pm. Ree submitted “A Broken Barbie” to the festival on a whim, and was thrilled to be one of the 38 plays chosen from hundreds submitted across the country. The Strawberry Festival, founded by Van Dirk Fisher in the hopes of providing a nurturing environment to produce new plays and highlight outstanding artists, is now entering its 16th season. Described as “the American Idol for playwrights” by the New York Daily News, the festival is a play competition in which the audience and the theatre’s judges cast their votes to select the best play of the season, holding semi-final and final rounds before crowning the winner.

Directed by Emily Swanson, with Stage Director Cristina Fowler, the ensemble piece features costumes by Ashley Guiel and an original song by Wes Hutchinson. The Strawberry One-Act Festival will be held at The Theatre at St. Clements, 423 West 46th St, NY, NY. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 646-623-3488 or visit www.therianttheatre.com. Seating is limited and reservations are suggested.

Come out and support a local NYC artist, whose touching tale of “A Broken Barbie” is sure to tug at the heartstrings, break down barriers, and revive memories of the uniquely incredible experience of living in the greatest city in the world.

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