By Bridgette M. Redman
Writing can lead to some pretty interesting discoveries for a playwright, especially when the writing is about real people and real relationships.
Bailey Boudreau doesn’t fashion himself a playwright, but rather sees writing as an outlet that he uses to express himself when he isn’t acting. But those expressions led him to discover much about his friendships with the women in his life.
The results of those discoveries will premiere Aug. 30-31 at a benefit for Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale and the Kyle Holton Memorial Scholarship Fund at Wayne State University. The play is “Basheret,” a new script that features seven actors – one man and six women – in an exploration of those close, personal friendships people form and how very different each one is.
“All my friends are pretty cool,” Boudreau said. “I wrote scenes of the ones most important to me and then pieced them all together…I learned so much about myself, and the girls playing these roles have learned about themselves knowing they were originating these characters.”
The play features playwright and director Boudreau in the main role of Benny; his friends are played by Aubrey Fink, Meredith Deighton, Rebecca Concepcion, Zee Bricker, Tara Tomcsik and Rachel Biber.
One of the things Boudreau discovered along the way was how very different all of his friendships were.
“They’re all unique, completely separate from one another,” Boudreau said. “It was really startling to see that, how different we all are with different people. We’re all such multi-faceted people. With certain friends we show different colors. It isn’t a duplicitous kind of thing; it is just what different people bring out in us. There’s the one you always go to with your problems, the one you go to get cupcakes with you. I didn’t realize each relationship was so different from one another. I thought I was exactly the same in all my friendships.”
And while the play started out as representations of actual friendships, it has evolved beyond that throughout the development process. Two of his friends were not pleased about their scenes, so he rewrote those scenes to make them more of characters and less about the people they were originally based on. He also said the actors have changed the characters a lot, originating them as actual characters rather than just copies of the people they were based on.
“I have these incredible actors who are creating characters based on these real people that I know but they don’t. Their delivery and characterizations are so vastly different than the people they are based on because we are so different. One person looks at the scenario and you have two different ideas on what the character is thinking and feeling.”
The play was originally called “A Day with my Gurlz,” as it features an actor who is stressing out about his opening night performance and spends the day with his friends trying to calm down. There are eight scenes that are presented out of sequence. The actor has woken up from a dream that he can’t remember and it is bothering him. He has breakfast with one friend, Skypes with another, goes CVS shopping with another, visits with another backstage and then has a mysterious encounter with another.
“It is fun for the audience to be able to solve this puzzle,” Boudreau said. “The storyline is one I don’t think is necessarily a plot-driven show. It is definitely a character-driven show. It has a nice balance of comedy and tragedy in the way I arranged the scenes. Some are so heavy you just need to breathe and laugh afterward, and some are so funny you need to take a break and probably pee.”
The title changed partway through as he worked on the script. He asked each of the women on whom the scenes were based to send him five words that he thought described their friendship. His one friend sent the word “Basheret,” meaning soul mate, or one that you were destined to have in your life. It is a Hebrew word that usually refers to one’s life mate. Boudreau wanted to explore the idea of these friendships being destined.
“Every time I read that scene, the word kept coming up. When I was casting the original reading it was still called ‘A Day with My Gurlz,’ but things kept happening with people who were falling into place. There were all those universe signs that we choose to ignore because it is too freaky – and they were happening non-stop. We kept having these basheret moments.”
He also felt when he changed the title it made the show more intriguing.
Boudreau said both the title and the show have been appropriate for this premiere and the charities that it benefits. Affirmations is where he went when he was in recovery, and it became his home community and one that he wants to give back to. He said they support the creation of families of choice such as he describes in the play. The Kyle Holton Scholarship is also one that gives to theater students the kind of opportunity he had.
“It is important that others are offered the same kind of opportunities I was. (This play) has truly become an experience for everyone,” Boudreau said. “In the beginning we had these basheret moments, and they continued to happen. It is fresh and based on discoveries and self-love and the families we create for each other. There is such a richness to this piece and an overall feeling of family and togetherness that it comes from.”
Boudreau has high praise for the women he has been working with, and the way they have portrayed and made anew these special relationships in his life.
“It’s really quite magical. I have been so humbled and inspired by this piece. That is the beauty of live theater.”
WickedGreen Productions at Affirmations, 290 W. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale. 7 p.m. Aug. 30 – 31. $15. 248-298-9617.