Inspired by Debra Ehrhardt’s one woman-show – Jamaica Farewell – which she saw earlier this year at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Alyson Renaldo approached the Jamaican actress after the event.
During the conversation, Ehrhardt suggested that Renaldo – a Canadian actress and performer residing in Los Angeles – consider doing a one-woman performance.
“I thought it was ridiculous at the time,” said Renaldo, who also contributes to the Huffington Post E-paper.
Eventually the idea resonated with Renaldo who wrote, produced, directed and performed the acclaimed one-woman play – Virgin – which premiered at the Santa Monica Playhouse last September.
“It’s a show done under Debra’s guidance and it’s about a woman looking at the relationship with herself, God, morals and sex,” said Renaldo. “The conversation revolves around what she wants to do versus what she should do and the concerns about always been on the right side living up to what she was taught culturally and morally while still feeling a sense of freedom. It’s mainly humour rooted in a strong dramatic narrative.”
Renaldo was turned on to film and theatre while attending Woburn Collegiate Institute.
“I always had a passion for it, but it never crossed my mind that it was something I could actually do,” she said. “While at Woburn, my Grade 13 teacher put me in a two-person play that was hugely successful and I won a small scholarship to attend university.”
Graduating with a degree in fine arts & theatre from the University of South California, Renaldo started her own production company, Tache De Naissance.
“I wanted to be in Los Angeles because that’s the hub of the entertainment industry,” said Renaldo, who has appeared in the drama-thriller, Changing Lanes and the psychological and political thriller, The Manchurian Candidate.
Seven years ago, she started The Cheryl’s Daughter Foundation, which is primarily focused on health and education initiatives in Canada and Guyana. The foundation is named after Renaldo’s mother, Cheryl Gittens, who is a Toronto-based Guyanese immigrant.
“My mother has been both of my parents for all of my life and I have watched her for my entire life always keep Guyana at the forefront of what she does,” said Renaldo, who has a Master’s in history & anthropology from Columbia University. “She would always send home whatever she could and I am now following in her footsteps.”
Produced by Renaldo, Ehrhardt and Denise London Wong, Virgin premieres on Friday, December 12 at 8 p.m. There are additional shows on December 13 at 8 p.m. and December 14at 3 p.m.
The venue is Daniels Spectrum’s Aki Studio Theatre, 585 Dundas St. E. The price of admission for the 90-minute show is $38 (tax included).
For tickets, individuals can contact nativeearth.ca/virgin or call (416) 531-1402.