Best Actress and Best New Play
- Dallas-Fort Worth Theatre Critics Forum
"...one of the most honest, funny, compelling and unforgettable pieces of theater you might see in your lifetime."
Local actress Sherry Jo Ward chronicles her struggle with Stiff Person Syndrome, an incredibly rare disease which impairs her mobility and causes her unexplained pain. Part stand up comedy, part PowerPoint presentation, Stiff is a unique and engaging first person account of what it means to re-assess one’s own goals and ambition when confronted with a life altering diagnosis.
Stiff runs at 7 PM October 17, 24, and 31 with a brief post-show discussion with Sherry Jo Ward and production director Marianne Galloway.
Seating in Stage West’s Studio Theatre is limited.
Tickets are $20 each or $15 for season subscribers. Discounts are also available with purchase of a ticket to Life Sucks which runs October 12 – November 12.
*** The Lobby Cafe will be serving dinner starting at 5:30. ***
More about the show:
Award-winning actress Sherry Jo Ward will bring her solo, autobiographical play Stiff to the Studio Theatre at Stage West for three Tuesday evening performances October 17, 24, and 31. Stiff was the unanimous standout at the Festival of Independent Theatres (FIT) in Dallas, and the great demand for more performances led Ward with Risk Theater Initiative to Stage West. Stiff won recognition for Best Actress and Best New Play from the Dallas-Fort Worth Theatre Critics Forum.
In 2015, after months of unusual symptoms Ward was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, a very rare neuromuscular disease. There are just over 300 people in the United States who are afflicted by it. Ward, who has been seen at Stage West in November (2011) and International Falls (2015) has worked to maintain an acting career in DFW. As this became more and more of a challenge, she ultimately decided to write a play for herself about her illness and her yearning to still act professionally, which incorporates her physical limitations and constant battle with random pain.
Also, the play is a comedy.
“There was no way I could tell the story without making it funny,” explains Ward. “My favorite way to deal with conflict is with humor, and those that know me best are able to laugh along with me even in my lowest moments. My hope is the play allows everyone in the audience to feel like they know me well enough to find humor through the pain.”
The play is, for the most part an hour of Sherry sitting in an armchair speaking directly and intimately to the audience, with some participation required, of course. Audiences were so moved that following each FIT performance, patrons would stand in line up to an hour to meet the actress. “Even though my disease is so rare, it seems like everyone found something specific in it that related to their life. By immediately breaking that fourth wall between me and the audience, it seemed like the play suddenly took on a universal quality,” says Ward.
Sherry will be playing Pickles in Stage West’s upcoming production of Life Sucks by Aaron Posner, and her play Stiff will run on the Tuesday nights during the run of Posner’s play. They seem to be a natural complement to each other. Not only does Ward lament her circumstances, with several jokes sprinkled throughout, but Pickles, like Ward is a loyal optimist who wants those around her to feel loved. Based on audience reactions from FIT, that is exactly what she did with Stiff, and what we want to share with Stage West patrons.