The multi-talented Lorraine Rodriguez-Reyes is an actor, director, writer, teacher, producer, wife and mom.
Rodriguez-Reyes put a lot of those skills to work in mounting the award-winning one-woman play “Mami Confessions,” which she wrote and stars in and is the latest entry in the Aurora Theatre’s Stage on Screen programming. The play, which was filmed at the Lawrenceville-based theatre in October, is available for streaming through Dec. 6.
Described as “1 Actor, 10 Moms, 1 Million Problems,” the play finds Rodriguez-Reyes playing 10 characters in her “unrestricted examination of motherhood.” “Mami Confessions” had a successful run at the Aurora late last year and was set for an encore in 2020, but the novel coronavirus pandemic shuttered most theaters in the early spring.
“It was a magical experience,” said the New York native of performing her own words. “I did it in late 2019 and was supposed to come back (in 2020) because we sold out all the performances. We were going into 2020 and we were going to bring it back, which was great because I wanted to add a male perspective. And then COVID happened. And there’s no show, no live theatre.”
An accomplished hand on stage and in film and television, Rodriguez-Reyes – who is also a gifted voiceover artist – admitted that even though she wrote the play she was in somewhat unknown territory with “Mami Confessions.”
“This is the first time I’ve done a one-woman show,” said Rodriguez-Reyes, whose best-known appearances came on HBO’s “The Sopranos” and the ABC series “What Would You Do?” “I call her ‘she’ because she’s my baby. I started writing her in 2011 and then I performed a rendition of her at the One Festival. She’s evolved.
“The first thing is, my source material was interviews with various women across the board. You always want to be authentic in storytelling. But when it’s just you portraying each character and taking the audience on a journey and making sure that it’s authentic, there’s no one else to play off of. All that energy comes from you. Everything emanates from you propelling the story forward, as opposed to waiting for somebody, working with somebody, playing with somebody. In that sense, that was the most difficult thing. But the nice thing is, if you ran up on a line nobody got mad at you.”
The play – which was an award-winner at New York’s ONE Festival – was filmed live at the Aurora utilizing three cameras as directed by Susan G. Reid. Rodriguez-Reyes said staging the play was not without its challenges, or its rewards.
“It had its moments,” she said. “It was definitely a beast, and as an artist it was kind of like my bucket list – I must do a one-person show; I need to take that challenge on, to embody these different people, to be authentic in my storytelling and to take you on a journey, all while having fun.”
While many in the theatre world have found the going difficult in the age of COVID, Rodriguez-Reyes has recently been quite busy. In addition to “Mami Confessions,” Rodriguez-Reyes served as director (virtually) for Kennesaw State’s Theatre and Performance Studies’ production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Water by the Spoonful” and has seen her film and television audition schedule heat up.
“I’ve had a very intense schedule these last couple of months,” she said. “I’ve been blessed overall, but this has been one beautiful creative fall season for me.
“Before COVID happened, I went from having major auditions where you go, ‘If I book this, this is life-changing.’ Then COVID occurred, so I was trying to be creative in other ways. I started writing and working on my other play and I put all my energy into that. And then auditions picked up because now everybody has a COVID-safe environment. I’ve been having about four auditions a week, And because everything is online and streamed and I can work from home, it has created more abundance than I realized was there.”
Rodriguez-Reyes earned her MFA from American Repertory Theatre/Harvard University/Moscow Art Theatre and worked extensively in New York before moving to the Atlanta area with her husband and two small children seven years ago. She added that life’s circumstances convinced her to work in other media besides the stage.
“It’s different here,” said Rodriguez-Reyes, who lives with her family in Johns Creek. “In New York, I’ve done a lot of theater and that’s where my training is, and I’ve done a lot of film and television there. Here, it’s mostly TV and film and not as much theatre, but that was by choice because I had little ones.
“When we moved here, my daughter was 6 months old and my son was 2 years old. And it was just my husband and I. So who was going to take care of kids when I had an 8 o’clock curtain?”
At present, Rodriguez-Reyes is writing another play and going on auditions. She’s well aware of the “feast or famine” nature of her chosen occupation and said she’s grateful for both work and rest.
“Abundance is a good word, but you also have to be OK with famine,” she said. “You need time to recoup your energy. Being an artist means everything – it takes your whole soul. You’ve given your entire self to it and sometimes you need to replenish and fill that love tank.”