You know that dream where you’re standing naked in front of an audience? For author/actor Summer “Rain” Sinclair, it’s a reality that’s happened three times this week.
Sinclair strips herself bare in her one-woman show, Born Again Bohemian, part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. OK, she’s not physically naked. But emotionally, Sinclair hides little as she ponders why her father abandoned her and why the heavenly version her mother pushed as a substitute wasn’t enough.
In an intensely personal one-hour show, Sinclair tells the story of her hippie parents, her mother’s conversion to an inflexible brand of Christianity and the ache of her father’s absence (“ … every kid needs a father figure, right? A man you can wrap your arms around, curl up in his lap and he’ll make it all better, right?” Sinclair asks).
It’s hardly the stuff of great tragedy; no one dies or gets cancer. But before you say, “Get over it,” consider this: most of us stuff down the distress of even an ordinary childhood and limp through life with unexamined demons creating barriers to fulfillment. Sinclair’s determined not to do that.
Sinclair’s Born Again is is one of numerous Fringe stand-ups including Yellow Dress, Talking to Yourself and Christmas in Bakersfield that can be described as staged versions of the literary memoir — an exploding genre that’s losing its novelty. Be they book or play, some work; others don’t.
Born Again does, or rather, will. It’s an early-stage production whose script is a moving target. Sinclair had performed it only one other time the night l stumbled onto it at the Open Fist Theatre.
As Sinclair acts out her childhood, she speaks, sings and dances out her feelings. At one point she lies on the floor, kicking and releasing a can’t-be-faked, gut-wrenching scream from deep within.
For me, such public display of emotion is the stuff of nightmares. Even in one-on-one therapy, I have almost never cried. So I wondered: what it’s like to open up like that front of an audience of strangers — or worse, an audience in which a handful of people actually know you? And why would anyone do that? I talked with Summer “Rain” Sinclair about the vulnerable experience of spilling her guts onstage.