‘Letters’: signed, sealed and undelivered
You know that look someone gets on her face after she’s written a letter that she doesn’t intend to send?Neither do I. But there must be one. How else to explain that Liz Feldman and Pamela Ribon were made partners on their first day of class as Los Angeles Second City Conservatory four years ago?
“It was clear we had theatrical chemistry,” said Feldman of that seemingly random pairing. But just how tight that bond is became clear some years later at the chicken-only L.A. restaurant Birds. There, presumably over some chicken, Ribon revealed a dark secret – that hidden somewhere among her personal effects was a stack of letters that she had written over the years, but never meant to deliver.”A light bulb went off in my head,” said the 27-year-old Feldman. She, too, had a stack of letters signed, sealed – and undelivered. “I not only didn’t plan on showing anybody the letters, I wasn’t going to tell anybody that I even had them.”That was an odd similarity.”
But hearing someone else’s dirty, covert secret does wonders for revealing your own. Soon, Feldman and Ribon – who had worked together on “Liz Feldman’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1,” which Ribon directed, and appeared together in “Call Us Crazy: The Anne Heche Monologues,” created and directed by Ribon – were at work on the two-person show, “Letters Never Sent.” The show collects some of the letters the two had written, others they wrote for the show.”It’s a collection of rants, I guess,” said Feldman. “Some deeply personal, some more universally relatable. It’s a cornucopia of bold statements.”
Feldman and Ribon say that everyone can relate to the idea of putting in words things you’ve always wanted to say – without suffering the consequences that come with actually saying them. “It’s like a private letter. It’s like reading from a diary,” said the 29-year-old Ribon. “And it’s a great way of blaming something – a pen, a Rubik’s Cube – for the reason your life fell apart. You don’t want to blame yourself for anything.”Among the would-be recipients of the letters: Christmas, the Drunk Version of Myself, Friends with Food Issues and the Lance Armstrong Bracelet. Feldman writes to her dead grandmother to reminisce about the time the two got stoned together. (Grandmother was in the final stages of cancer; granddaughter was thinking puffing out with granny would not only relieve some pain, but might provide good material for a future bit. She was right. Grandma’s response: “I don’t feel anything, It’s not working. … Does anybody have a caramel?”) Ribon sent a letter to Rubik’s Cube, about the pivotal childhood moment when, thinking their child was a genius, her parents gave her a Rubik’s Cube to solve. Which she couldn’t, thus concluding Ribon’s “genius” years.In addition to reading the letters, Feldman and Ribon do one-liners, sketches and improv in “Letters Never Sent.” But it is the letters that give the show its unique character. The two say that they encourage audiences to give it a try.
“The art of letter-writing has morphed into e-mailing and instant-messaging,” said Feldman. “But it’s such a classic, elegant form of communication.””Letters Never Sent” shows today at 11 p.m., and Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Tent in Wagner Park.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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