By Harrison Held
The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man
l-r: Nathan Nonhof, Betsy Moore, Paula Rebelo
Photo by Mauricio Gomez
Kudos to talented writer/director Maureen Huskey and her team on her intriguing new production The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man, now playing at the Son of Semele Theater in Los Angeles. The colorful, well-executed experimental play, with music by acclaimed World Music artist Yuval Ron, explores the very complicated life and unfortunate suicide of award winning 60's and 70's science fiction writer James Tiptree, Jr., who was actually a woman by the name of Alice B. Sheldon.
The story of Sheldon's fascinating life is framed with one of Tiptree's short stories, turning the play into something part fact, part fever dream, part musical, and 100% entertainment.
Alice B. Sheldon was born in 1915 to Chicago socialites Herbert Bradley and Mary Hastings Bradley. By the age of six, Alice had traveled to Africa where she became known as "the First White Child Ever Seen by the Pigmy Tribes". She earned a Ph.D. in psychology and started writing science fiction full time at the age of 50, following multiple careers in male dominated arenas like the Army, the C.I.A., the Pentagon and academia. She was also a painter and at one time operated a chicken farm, but her greatest gifts were her talent, imagination and skills as a ground-breaking and bold science fiction writer.
l-r: James Ferrero, Betsy Moore, Megan Rippey
Photo by Son of Semele Ensemble
James Tiptree's writings were described by the sci-fi community as incredibly masculine and after his true identity was revealed, Alice B. Sheldon became known as the world's greatest literary trickster. Ironically it was the remarkable life she led as a woman that made her writing so believable as a man.
The accomplished cast is first rate...Betsy Moore is wonderful in her commanding performance as adult Alice, as are Paula Rebelo as Young Alice and 12 year old Isabella Ramacciotti as Little Alice. The talented cast includes Alex Wells, as Alice's husband Ting, , Anneliese Euler as Alice's mother Mary Bradley, James Ferrero as James Tiptree Jr., Emma Zakes Green as Tass, Megan Rippey as Mira, and Ashley Steed as Janice. Rounding out the cast are talented ensemble members Kamar Elliott, Nathan Nonhof, and Robert Paterno.
The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man was inspired by the biography
James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips along with Tiptree's own
With Delicate Mad Hands.
The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man runs through November 18th with performances on Tuesdays at 7pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 5pm. Tickets are $25. Patrons 25 and under get $5 off with valid ID at the door. Son of Semele Theater is located at 3301 Beverly Blvd. Visit www.sonofsemle.org or call 818 541 5422 for more information.