A journey of self-discovery that covers a lot of ground, Beauty, Bollywood and Beyond is a one-woman show that aims to make theatregoers open their minds, maybe laugh or cry, and return home with a different perspective.
Theresa Puskar, the creator and performer of the play which takes over the Mady Centre on Sunday, Oct. 15, admits the title might take some folks aback until they witness the show.
“At the start of the quest that took me to India, I had certain pre-conceived notions about what to expect once there. Many of those expectations came from images I saw in Hollywood and Bollywood productions. (However), I soon learned that the reality of India was much more potent and powerful that I had ever imagined.”
In the course of the play, Puskar’s character encounters four fairytale princesses who share their stories, something dating back to her childhood.
“I spent hours and hours, dreaming that I was Cinderella. In fact, in Grade 2 I took the story of Cinderella out of the library, and actually wrote out a script. I then proceeded to perform it for a crowd -- albeit, a ‘captive’ room full of classmates!”
Puskar radically altered the outcome of those fairy tales, and must have drawn a lot of bug-eyed, slack-jawed reactions from those kids. But her vision for these characters was proven right years later.
“Fast-forward several decades, and I discovered that those princesses of old I so dearly loved still reigned supreme within the recesses of my mind. One by one, they each revealed themselves and their REAL stories to me.”
Puskar goes on to say Beauty, Bollywood and Beyond takes the audience on emotional voyage with many twists and turns.
“If a writer has done her work, the audience connects with the protagonist on a very deep level, and rides the waves of emotions with her. I think this is the case with my show. Through the course of the show, the princesses tag along on Theresa's journey, and reveal their wisdom to her through the re-telling of their TRUE stories of long ago in ways that are deliciously creative, wickedly unabashed, and at times, totally outlandish!”
And, Puskar adds, don’t hold your breath waiting for a bunch of Princes Charming to risk life and limb in order to rescue these women and make them complete, unlike the fairy tales of long ago.
“Each princess has journeyed to find herself and has succeeded in doing so. They each uncover their real stories of self-incrimination, and ultimately, self-empowerment. They grow into powerhouse women, who ultimately come to terms with their own emotional strengths and weaknesses.”
The individuality of these other characters is what Puskar believes should have the most impact on the audience.
“The ways in which they reveal their stories are wonderfully creative and deliciously unique. As the audience members watch, I believe they sit and think, ‘Huh! That's really plausible. Makes sense, come to think of it. What a fascinating way of re-interpreting those stories’.”
They're going to be asking, "Where's the book of the retold tales? I'd rather bring my children or grandchildren up on those stories - more progressive and empowering!" My response, "The book is on its way to the printer!"
Puskar hearkens to the testimonial of one (male) member of one audience.
“He wrote, ‘Coming out of the show, I empathized with Theresa and learned that I need to commit to completely accepting and loving myself’.”
Beauty, Bollywood and Beyond plays the Mady Centre, 1 Dunlop St. W., Sunday afternoon, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. To learn more, click here.