When my friend gave me tickets to ‘The Closet Bitch’ (written and performed by Shana Solomon) at Stage Left Studio in Chelsea, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect except that I was going to watch another autobiographical one woman show.
Well halfway through the show I was glad that my friend Tommy had gotten me the tickets.
The play is a riveting look into the rough life of a Bronxite who beat all the odds stacked against her; a schizophrenic mother banished from her life by a drug addicted and dealer of a father, all told with humor which softens the blow of her story.
Yes, I know many are thinking, “here we go again another woe is me, the Bronx is rough” story which has been done ad nauseum but I promise you it’s much more than that.
‘The Closet Bitch’ is about the aforementioned autobiographical story on the surface but it digs a lot deeper and gets into very relevant topics. Shana Solomon questions her identity on so many levels; as a woman, as a woman of color, what it feels like to be a Bronxite in corporate America.
Solomon deftly shows us all the masks she had to wear in life in order to survive in all these circumstances and their related stigmas.
There’s a point in the play which will resound with many Bronxites at some point in their life: feeling ashamed about where they’re from instead of pride. Something which the media helped shaped in not just our consciousness but the global consciousness and perception of the Bronx as well.
I highly recommend this show to anyone whether you’re from the Bronx or not as it is a story that could have come from anywhere.
Details after the interview on location, times, and dates as well as a link to purchase tickets.
Besides this autobiographical one woman show, Solomon has appeared on television in various shows as a lead including several national commercials where she was also the lead.
Read our exclusive interview with Shana Solomon below!
‘The Closet Bitch’ is a pretty raw and self-exploratory piece. What made you want to share such an intimate story with the world particularly that of your parents and their own personal demons?
If I didn’t tell this intimate story of all of the times I wish I would have spoken up in life, then I never would have evolved into the bold woman I am today. I was taught to hold my tongue and smile through the pain. I was “daddy’s little girl” and that title blinded me from seeing the truth in so many people. As women, we hide our truth because we’re taught to be “nice and sweet”. So, I reveal family demons such as, my fathers drug dealing and using lifestyle, his young Puerto Rican mistress and mothers mental disability to relate to an inspire women with their own demons to see things clearer and stand on what they believe in. Women come up to me after the show every night, crying and emotionally touched because they say; my story inspires them to be stronger. I love that! What better reason to embarrass my family and myself every night?
Why ‘The Closet Bitch’ as the title?
Haha, my favorite question!
The “CLOSET” is a metaphor for the rules women are taught to obey in life and the “BITCH” is what we get called when we break those rules. I lived in the closet most of my life. Afraid to go against the grain and stand on what I believed in regardless of what others thought. Now I live by my own design.
Where in the Bronx were you raised and how long did you live there? Which schools did you attend?
I moved to the Bronx (Co-op City) when I was about 3 years old. I moved back and forth from Co-op to the South Bronx when I was a teenager living in Jackson Projects and 169th street & Freeman Avenue. I lived in the Bronx for 26 years.
I attended P.S. 153 elementary school, M.S. 180 (Dr. Daniel Hale Williams) and Harry S. Truman High School for almost two years until I was forced to leave because I was a troublemaker, I had a terrible napoleon complex. I signed up for Arturo A. Schomburg Satellite Academy high school and attended Lehman College all in the Bronx, New York.
Do you still live in the Bronx?
I left the Bronx three years ago but I’m there about once a week to see my parents and friends. I get home sick.
How do you feel growing up in the Bronx prepared you for the world?
The Bronx is located in one of the most powerful, fast paced cities in the world, so I took advantage of that! I learned how to hustle up a dollar and survive living in the Bronx. The Bronx taught me how to be independent. At 11 years old I was taking the 12 bus to Fordham Road to see the excitement. The biggest lesson I got from the Bronx was how to communicate with different people. I feel totally comfortable traveling anywhere in the world because of it.
Tell us about when you knew acting was what you wanted to pursue.
I knew I wanted to act when I performed the ghetto version of “Cinderella” in my 4th grade class called “Cindy”. I forgot to leave the glass slipper for my prince to find me. Backstage I heard the prince say, “Here is her glass slipper…” I looked down at my feet and realized I had both slippers on. I quickly took one off, got in my quarter back stance and threw the slipper perfectly to knock him in his head. He picked the slipper up, repeated the line and got tons of laughs! Those laughs made me realize, I could do this for the rest of my life.
What are some of the obstacles you’ve encountered on your journey in pursuing your career?
I think I hold the world record for obstacles of an actor because I take so many risks. I’ve heard exactly 300 “no’s” from casting directors, my mother keeps an excel sheet of all of my auditions, she’s the cutest. But I kept on going. I knocked on every agents door in NYC, they all told me no. I kept knocking. I’ve tried to start a web series and improv group with fellow actors but it fell through every time. I kept searching. I co-wrote a short film, spent my inheritance on the production and it wasn’t accepted into festivals. I kept writing and pushing until I wrote The Closet Bitch. Those obstacles have been my biggest teacher.
Do you have any advice or words for budding Bronxites seeking a career in acting and the arts?
The Bronx has so many artistic outlets. As a kid I would go to “The Point” to audition and perform. I was always involved with the art of acting in some way. Whether it was class, an audition or reading a book on one of my idols, I made sure I stayed busy in acting. If you want to become great at acting, study it, immerse yourself in it and become obsessed until you master it. There are resources all around you. And last, I wish someone would have told me when I was growing up, regardless of the slang you speak, the extra dip in your walk or what you believe people see when you walk in the room, make all the noise you can with acting and make the world respect your individuality by believing in yourself! And always remember where you’re from, but more importantly focus on your destination like a hawk!
‘The Closet Bitch‘ is running every Monday until March 24th at 7:30PM at Stage Left Studio located in Chelsea at 214 W 30th Street on the 6th Floor between 7th and 8th Avenues.
Tickets are $22 which includes a $2 service charge. Click here for tickets: http://www.stageleftstudio.net/tour-ticket.php?id=36
Stage Left Studio is easily accessible via subway on the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, B, D, F, N, Q and R trains to 34th Street as well as the PATH train to 33rd and 6th Avenue.