Taking private, often painful experiences and making them public is the point of Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales). The new monthly series of spoken-word performances drew a full house at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary Tuesday night. Seven writer-reader-actors took solo turns in the spotlight, offering stories loosely adhering to the theme "One-Night Stand."
Producer and actress Nicole Stewart was inspired to launch this series when she moved to Dallas from Los Angeles, where she'd participated in a similar show. Stage time is open to anyone who submits a short piece (no longer than 10 minutes) that's accepted for the lineup. Stories must be true. There are no limits on language or content.
At Tuesday's show, Jessica Lee, a Dallas HR consultant, led off, telling a bittersweet story of her brief career as an archaeologist and her one-night liaison with a Colorado smoke-jumper who looked like Brad Pitt. Ad writer Hillary Link had the audience transfixed as she casually rewound her life through chapter after chapter of traumatic events, including childhood cancer, an amputated limb, overlapping addictions and a sexual assault. That one, nightstand by her bed was the connection to each scene.
Photographer Mike Thompson delivered a passionate story of growing up gay and closeted, with a homophobic American GI father and a Vietnamese mom. At 16, after his father committed suicide, said Thompson, "I was surprised that the emotions I was feeling included happiness."
UTD master's student and sketch comic Ron Alexy brought a flirtatious vibe to his tale of not-so-hot sex with an older woman. "Before that night, I hadn't had sex in four years," he said. "I was technically re-virginized."
Writer Elizabeth Harrison's "one-night stand" detailed her escape, with husband Bryan and their 4-month-old, from Sudan as civil war broke out. Ryan Creery skillfully moved his vignette from light comedy - "We met two smooth talkers. We'll call them Ron and Jeremy" - to dark terror in a night of date-rape and its psychological aftermath. "I've learned to love without waiting for the bruise," he said at the end.
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Actor, blogger and playwright Mac Lower wound up the night with a funny remembrance of his brief moment of sexual bliss with a slightly older woman, who just happened to have been his high school Spanish teacher. In her apartment, she leaves him standing naked in the bedroom while she puts on some music. "I heard the music begin to play. How'm I supposed to keep an erection to Enya?"
The quality of the writing at this week's Oral Fixation was sometimes unpolished but consistently interesting. What was most impressive, however, was the sincerity of the writers, who had the courage to put into words and read aloud to a big audience the secret parts of their lives that were funny, sad, sexual and even shocking - but needing to be shared.
The next performances of Oral Fixation are at 7:30 p.m., April 17 (theme: "Have a Field Day") and May 15 ("Cooking with Gas"). Stories may be submitted for consideration to email@example.com. For more info go to oralfixationshow.com.