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As a first time producer, David’s RedHaired Death comes with many challenges. Only two characters are on stage the entire play, time is non-linear, not to mention the mysterious male ensemble that could have anywhere from 2-10 members.

I knew I had to find another woman to co-produce and co-star who was up to the challenge, someone who I could share this wonderful show with. I found her in Diana Beshara, who co-founded One Old Crow Productions, a New York Innovative Theatre Award nominated company. After seeing their first production, Cowboy Mouth, I knew David’s RedHaired Death, which I’d been wanting to work on for eight years, was a good fit.

After showing her the script, Diana and I both suffered personal tragedies: the loss of her father and my aunt. They died within days of each other. Everything was put on hold. I didn’t hear anything for months, and then I get an email that says, yes, we have to do this play. We began the process in March, reading through the script, assembling lists of our dream creative team, possible venues, budgets, fundraising, marketing, you name it. Over the summer, we hired an amazing director named Michael Rau (a redhead!) and started rehearsals in September, working in a way that made this sometimes nebulous script feel specific and real.

I think the version Diana and I imagined in our heads is certainly different than the production we ended up with. We discussed initially doing the show as more of a site specific piece, blurring the lines between audience and actor, leaving room for interaction. As it turned out, our creative team with all their contributions turned this into more than I ever imagined, and while I do see some of our original ideas within the projections and the monologues, it became more of a traditional theatre space that I think is true to the show.

Elizabeth Simmons as Marilyn and Diana Beshara as Jean in David's RedHaired Death Photo credit Erin Mulvehill

What I hope to accomplish in David’s RedHaired Death is recognition of the situations and the characters. I want our audiences to relate to the intricacies of a new relationship and to dealing with loss. I see so much of myself in Marilyn, and every time we perform I learn something new; I feel the arc of her story more keenly. There are so few two women shows, and I’m so honored to be working on this piece.  I also hope we accomplish doing a successful full theatrical run at LA SALA, which is connected to Cantina Royal. The partnership between a restaurant and a theatre company is a really exciting one, and we have been able to collaborate with a menu incorporated into the show. I see so much potential for growth here, and I hope it is mutually beneficial.

There’s always a risk associated with doing a show in a space that’s never been used for that purpose before. We really built out a theatre, painting the entire space, renting lights, creating a moveable set, and masking kitchen areas. With all the staff involved in David’s RedHaired Death and Cantina Royal, the space can get quite busy! I’ve learned so much as a producer and an actor, it really is a time where you have to take ownership of the decisions being made and believe in yourself. Wearing different hats I think has been challenging for us, we are contributing creatively as actors and also interested in all the other aspects as producers. Letting our creative staff really do their jobs and trusting their choices has been something we’ve had to remind ourselves of. I hope we get a huge audience in for these next two weekends! We just got our first review, and with my producer hat on, I can tell you it’s a good one.

See you there!

Elizabeth Simmons

Co-Producer David’s RedHaired Death

One Old Crow Productions