Having recently returned from a few years abroad, local actor and author Schatzie Schaefers hasn”t wasted any time in getting her feet wet. Schaefers, a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage theater department, is directing a collection of one-act comedies she has written called ‘Fourplay.’
Like so many young Alaskans Schaefers felt the burning need to escape Alaska”s gravitational pull and go see the world after college. Her first destination was North Carolina where she persued a career in radio. A few busy years as a radio disc jockey in Raleigh left her with very little time for theater.
‘The money was great, but I was only able to do two shows in two years,’ Schaefers said. ‘It was killing me.’
After leaving Raleigh, she took a year off in Seattle to write.
Still, Schaefers missed Alaska. After penning two and a half novels and a handful of one-acts, Schaefers returned to Alaska, where she is now a prominent performer in the Anchorage community.
‘Fourplay’ will be performing at Cyrano”s Off Center Playhouse starting Sept. 9. This will be the first time her one-acts will be performed. ‘Fourplay’ consists of four, one-act comedies that Schaefers assures will be anything but ordinary.
Schaefers said she uses situations from her own life as inspiration for her plays. An example she gave was when she was a poor DJ. A friend and fellow starving artist told her in confidence that she wanted to become a prostitute and asked Schaefers to be her pimp. Schaefers played along for a time. The next day her friend called back and told her she had been serious the entire time.
‘I took that situation and made it a lot harder for the characters. Then I just said, “What if?”‘ Schaefers said.
Originally, Schaefers had no intention of directing all the one-acts herself.
‘I was planning on only directing “TiVo Tribe”‘ Schaefers said.
When Kari Mote of Kokopelli Theater got a look at the shows, she insisted Schaefers direct all of them herself.
‘I am happy to produce such talented artists as Schatzie,’ Mote said.
Apart from participating in the annual production ‘Overnighters,’ this is the first time Schaefers has directed her own work and she is having a blast.
‘It feels great,’ she said. ‘I have such a good cast. They just make the characters come alive.’
‘Fourplay’ includes an impressive lineup of local theater luminaries such as Paul Schweigert, Sarah MacMillan and David Haynes.
Schaefers tends to write edgy material for women that reflects our day and age. She said writing plays has brought home the fact that many actors and directors fail to respect the playwright. There is a duty to the playwright to tell their story without cutting or editing lines.
‘Nothing is worse than a director who wants to put a crazy spin on a show when it just does not fit. “Hey I know! We”ll set this play in a jail!”‘ Schaefers said. She concedes that this can be difficult with classics that are full of jokes that aren”t funny anymore.
‘That”s why Shakespeare is hard,’ she said. ‘I never do Shakespeare. Everyone knows those stories, let”s make new ones.’
From the look of things, that is exactly what Schaefers is doing. With more projects in the works, this should be the first of many local original pieces.
‘Fourplay’ plays at Cyrano”s Sept. 9-19, Thursday – Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. For tickets, call Cyrano”s at 274-2599.