Heather Woodbury | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Heather Woodbury


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The beauty of Heather Woodbury's performances is the way she summons up many different characters just by changing the tone of her voice, adding a few accessories, and modifying her body language. In her impressive multinight piece, What Ever (An American Odyssey in 8 Acts), she's able to flip between the ten main characters and 90-plus supporting characters with astonishing ease. Set during the first Clinton administration, the work chronicles a handful of eccentrics and misfits, among them a Santa Cruz-based poet named Clove; raver boy Skeeter, who thinks he loves her; a mysterious spirit, Cobain the Friendly Ghost, who haunts Clove; and a very opinionated 80-year-old and former party girl, Violet Smith, living on the Upper East Side. Woodbury developed What Ever in the early 90s in the East Village, performing a new episode every week for nine months, then edited them with her director, Dudley Saunders. Together they wove her hundreds of hours of loose plotlines and complicated characters into a coherent if lengthy whole: each of the eight acts is approximately 70 minutes. For much of the 90s Woodbury toured the country with the piece, then transformed it again into What Ever: A Living Novel, published earlier this year. She'll perform the piece's fifth act at the Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. November 11-12: Tuesday-Wednesday, 7:30 PM. $15, or $10 with purchase of book. Note: Woodbury will sign copies of the novel Sunday, November 9, at 5 PM at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark, 773-769-9299.

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