Reporting in after the Memoir Showcase

tara samson and nicola ranson“The Visit” is an excerpt from my memoir, a short story about my parents’ journey to Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, to visit me on the commune there. Seeing it performed as one of the winners of the 2019 Memoir Showcase was a blast! It was a community event shared with the writers, actors and everyone who showed up on a Monday night to see it.  It was like having a party that someone else went to all the trouble of organizing. (Thanks to the producers, Marni Freedman and Tracy J. Jones.)

It is certainly bizarre to watch someone playing your younger self. I had the surprising experience of finding that it enhanced my compassion for her—like getting an outside view into my own youthful innocence.

Tara Sampson did an extraordinary job putting her heart into the character. She told me she was able to do so by tuning in to the universality of family relationships. That’s what it’s is all about isn’t it? I could feel the audience really connecting to her interpretation, identifying with a young woman’s conflict with her father, even though that young woman was living a very different kind of life.

One audience member told me that she experienced, “an emotionally charged peek into an individual, yet somehow universal, experience of seeking to make sense of love and family.” Wow. That meant the world to me. Because, in writing about my experience in a cult, I don’t want to conform to the (generally negative) stereotype of a cult follower. I want to crack it all open for others to understand. After all, dressing in orange doesn’t equate to an entire life, just a slice of one.

I think it is the ingredient known as “relatability” that made all the Showcase entries so wonderful. The stories, from Kilimanjaro to watching an egg hatch, were compelling because the writers—and actors—were authentic. They hit us in that human place where we all reside and relate to one another.

The journey of memoir is a fascinating way to meet people—including yourself. If your own story is pulling you at all I recommend getting out that pen. Or, if you are local, join the San Diego Memoir Writers Association and submit your entry for next year’s Memoir Showcase.

17 thoughts on “Reporting in after the Memoir Showcase”

  1. What a captivating story! Having watched the six-part series on Netflix about “The Ranch”, it was mesmerizing to hear your first hand account of being a “disciple” and your intimate account of your parent’s visit.
    The image of your father audibly venting his pain still lingers.

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  2. I enjoyed and found something amazing in all ten acts selected to be performed in the annual Memoir Showcase! Knowing you and seeing the memory of your parents’ visit to Rajneeshpuram acted out on stage was powerful, moving and so interesting! After the success of Netflix’s “Wild Country,” I can’t wait to read more about you and The Ranch in your written memoir, “A Slice of Orange!”
    Keep us posted!

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    • There should be a video and I will post a link when it appears. There were two guests from Northern California – Jacki and Bharti!

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  3. I had a thoroughly awesome time last night! Can’t tell you enough how impressed I was with your piece. And it brought back so many memories. Standing along the road, waiting for the moment of bliss, looking into his eyes! Hilarious how well you put it. So look forward to more. And I also really enjoyed all the other readings. To be chosen as one of the 10 is quite an honor. Very proud of you!

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    • Isn’t that a great doco?! (As they call them in Australia.) Ron and I got NetFlix for the occasion and binge watched it. Couldn’t see myself though despite all the frames we freezed.

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  4. Nicola: Congratulations on your memoir “A Slice of Orange,” and on “The Visit” being named co-winner of the 2019 Memoir Showcase! Your insightful writing and its stage adaptation are poignant contributions toward understanding the human condition. Canada is proud of you! Keep up the good work!

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  5. My eyes were searching for you, as well. Isn’t that you in the pic for the Mémoire Showcase poster?
    When will the video be available?

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