Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

TidBits About Donna #44 Taking Center Stage

Ever since high school when I starred as Marcelino, a young boy in Marcelino Pan y Vino, I have wanted to do more theater. I dabbled in it in college when I shared the lead with another young actor in Hello Out There. The biggest joy of that performance was that both of my parents traveled to Pittsburgh from Erie, Pennsylvania to see me perform.

The following year I was chosen to co-star in Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour. I played Mary, a mischievous and devious child whose lies and deceit caused the ruination of the co-stars Karen and Martha. It was a controversial play dealing with homosexuality and took a good deal of talking by our director, Janet, to convince the administration to grant permission for us to perform the play for the college audience at Robert Morris University. Unfortunately, our leading man disappeared, dropped out of school – who knows. We never saw him again. He left us only days before opening night. As you may have guessed, the play was sadly cancelled, but it still holds a dear spot in my heart.

These few tastes of theatre left me longing for more. It wasn’t until this past year, when I eked out a few more minutes from my life’s overly-busy schedule, that I joined my town theatre. I began working/volunteering in the box office during shows. I worked as house manager, taking tickets, greeting the play-goers, and making sure the house was prepared for the comfort of the patrons. I also help to prepare sets by painting scenery. Earlier this year I took the stage for the first time in nearly forty years with a monologue, called Fleece, about a middle-aged woman who  is obsessed with … fleece. It was written by Joe DelPriore.

I did an impromptu performance when I was recruited to be an extra in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This is one of my favorite plays. I took my granddaughter to see it two years ago on Broadway. It’s a quirky play about very eccentric “spelling bee’ers.” I was a part of the support cast for about 50 minutes. That was half of the play. It was a real rush and such fun. (More on that later.)

With a red and white polyester house dress, a red, pilled, mis-buttoned cardigan, glamorous beads draping my neck, high top black and white sneakers with trailing laces, and a stocking cap plopped on my head with a beautiful, yellow flower adorning its side, I hobbled onto stage to find my favorite park bench. I’d spent twelve years of my life on that beloved bench only to find it occupied by an old, scraggly man in need of some “hygiene” stuff.

The one act includes my character declaring her detest of squirrels and chipmunks and wondering what the old man’s take on small animals in the park is. After enduring a leering look from the man, she  firmly assures him that she “ain’t on the market.” Then she quietly reminisces about her long, dead husband, Harold, and her too busy grown-up children.

This piece produced lots of laughter from the audience, but it also provided an insightful view into the gentler character of the woman. This profile shows that, yes, she is tough. She is streetwise. She is sometimes even comical. But she is, first, a human being with feelings and wants and needs … and loves. Like most people, I am aware of the sad plight of the homeless, but while rehearsing this piece over and over again, I became more sensitized. I began to reflect on the inner beauty of the woman and began to understand the mechanisms she used to cope. It will surely make me see the people of the streets differently.


November 1, 2011 - Posted by | TidBits About Donna | , , , , , ,


  1. Outrageously awesome! I absolutely love the story and your costume as well!

    Comment by Sanner | November 1, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks, San. I can always count on you for an interesting and flattering comment.

      Love, your older sis, Donna

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | November 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. OH MY GOD! Those pictures are absolutely priceless!!!!!!!!!!! So cute!

    Comment by Growing Flowers | November 1, 2011 | Reply

  3. Scary … huh????

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | November 1, 2011 | Reply

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