CoHo Blog: The Way You Made Me

An Interview with the Creative Team

Coming up next at CoHo is The Way You Made Me, a one-woman show by local Portland Playwright, Lindsay Partain. The Way You Made Me is a is a cathartic reflection on home, love, and belonging, taking audiences on a journey into a softer, cozier, more connected world. 

We sat down with the creative team behind this sweet production to learn more about who they are, what their creative process has been like, and why they are excited to bring this particular piece to the Portland community. 

Hi everybody! Thank you so much for sitting down with us to talk about The Way You Made Me. With me today I have Lindsay Partain, the playwright, Devon Roberts, the Director/Producer/Designer, and Rebecca Baugh, the actor portraying Imogen, the sole character in the play. 

CoHo: Lindsay, would you tell us a bit about the play? What is the play about?
Lindsay: So, The Way You Made Me is a one-woman show featuring a young woman named Imogen, who is both literally and figuratively unpacking. The play is about this process of allowing yourself to take up space – it’s about the concept of home, the struggle of building a safe and loving one, and in a lot of ways, it’s about love, familial, romantic, self love, and about love languages, and how clashing languages don’t negate the love that exists.

CoHo: What inspired you to write the play? Where did it come from?
Lindsay: This play is a very personal play for me, it’s kind of just my whole heart, out on the page. I wrote the play because I’d been carrying around all this hurt and this fear of abandonment and all of this love for my family, both legal and chosen, and I needed to get it all out of me so that I could invite people in without all of that fear bogging me down, so that I could move forward in my journey of learning how to love other people better, and learning how to love myself better.

CoHo: Devon and Rebecca, what drew you to this project?
Devon: When I first encountered this play it was back in 2020, it was part of the thing I was working on with the New Play Project. Lindsay submitted her play, I read it, and instantly fell in love. I’m really drawn to the poetry of the piece, I’m really drawn to the theatricality of the piece and the vibrant emotional life that this character brings out. I think it’s one of the most captivating shows I’ve ever read and I knew that I wanted to workshop it then, and secretly knew that I wanted to direct it sometime in the future, and now I’m just excited that I finally get to.

Rebecca: Devon introduced me to the play and then I read it and from the first page, I was HOOKED because there was so much BREAD! Lindsay’s writing is so intoxicating, its so engaging, and it’s something that when I was reading it, I knew if I was seeing it on stage, it would effect me and I’d want to do it. I’m just so happy to be able to be Imogen, like, thank you so much for allowing me to portray this part Lindsay, I’m so excited.

CoHo: Rebecca, will you tell us a little bit about Imogen? What excites you about bringing this role to life?
Rebecca: Imogen, she is right around 29, 30, she’s a writer who finds herself constantly moving in a world that hasn’t exactly held her back and she’s just navigating that as well as she can. She doesn’t call herself a hopeless romantic, but she does describe herself as someone who loves love stories, and you can feel that with every time she talks about anything, everything she brings up something new, you can feel the love she has for everything, even the small little mundane things like bread! And anything she can talk about, she just comes at it with such warmth and goofiness, which is also something I love about her, that’s something I cling to is that the way she speaks is kind of quirky and weird. Additionally, I’m excited to bring a character that’s focused on healing – I think very much that that’s what this play is about. Just rehearsing with myself and memorizing, it’s been really introspective for me trying to work through some of my trauma. It’s really tough, and I’m really excited to bring a thoughtful, emotional, strong, poetic woman to life and present the history that makes her that way.

CoHo: Devon, let’s move on to you. Would you tell us a bit about yourself as a director and what kind of stylistic choices you’ll be making with this piece?
Devon: My feelings as a director is that emotion always comes first, character comes first, and taking the audience on an emotional journey of the play, being as truthful to that, centering that, everything else is serving that goal. For me, this play is very emotionally grounded, emotionally sincere. There’s a great amount of warmth to pull out of this piece and then there’s this great opportunity Lindsay’s given us to be very theatrical, which is also what I’m very passionate about. Theater should be theatrical, it should be big, you should build a world up there and this play allows me to have these incredible grounded moments on stage and have a very real moment with very real objects, but then, take us underwater and surprise us with this sort of beauty and indescribable feeling of seeing something magical happen in this this very niche moment which is usually very not glamorous and exhausting – where Imogen is at moving in on the first day is TOUGH, and I’m just excited to celebrate that with this show.

CoHo: Tell us about the world you’re building on stage. What does the stage look like when the play starts and what do you hope it will look like when the play concludes?
Devon: The first thing the audience is going to notice is a lot of moving boxes. I want the play to live in this space of what it feels like to walk into a house that just had someone move in; lots of boxes, random objects, those knick-knacks… just someone’s life out on stage, but then we’re also going to, in the style of the play, kind of dramatically bring it out to this kind of more expressive place. It’s going to feel natural but elevated, heightened. By the end of the show, I really want the space to feel like a home, but it’s not going to be a home in a traditional sense. Spoilers: Rebecca’s going to be building a structure on stage out of everything that’s around her and the goal is to make the audience feel like they’re in the blanket fort with her. To invite them in – if the audience is suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to run on stage and cuddle up next to Rebecca, then I would think we’d done our job perfectly. 

CoHo: What are some central themes of the production?
Rebecca: I think searching and discovery is a huge one for me – Imogen is constantly searching for her home and her family, her chosen family, and she’s discovering different things and the acceptance of discovering those things along the way. Obviously, it’s also about home, just what makes a home a home, as well as the balance of healing, how you balance having the emotion but then having the humility to get through it at the same time.
Lindsay: Rebecca, you said it perfectly, that was everything.

CoHo: What is exciting about bringing this play specifically to CoHo and how do you see this play coming to life on the CoHo stage or in the CoHo space?
Devon: I’ve been watching CoHo shows for a long time, and every time I go into that space, I’m immersed in a world. That world becomes so real to me that it;’s exciting, and it’s all so different. So for this kind of show where I really wanted to invite the audience into Imogen, CoHo just made sense because it’s such a great space for putting the audience into the heart of the characters and into their world, and the minute you walk into that theater, you get to feel a part of whatever’s happening, and I think that’s so important for this show.

CoHo: What are some of the challenges you faced and what challenges do you anticipate tackling with this play as it comes to life?
Lindsay: When I was writing it, I initially didn’t think that this show would ever get done, just because it is such a deeply personal piece of mine, and I’d been told by colleagues that had read it that, “You know, sometimes, personal plays are just that. They’re just kind of meant for you.” And I took that pretty hard. But I put it up on New Play Exchange, I started getting all these messages from people reaching out to me saying how deeply they connected with Imogen, and that they wish’d they’d had this play when they were growing up, and that they related so hard to her experience with her family, and just this wave of love sort of greeted me when I pushed it out into the world, so I think that the difficult thing or the challenge with it has been trusting it to be out in the universe, and letting it grow out in the public sphere.

Devon: It is hard as an independent producer with no funding of any kind fo try to produce any kind of play, and to wear a bunch of hats is challenging, but CoHo honestly makes that very accessible and very doable, which is again one of the many reasons CoHo became the option, because there’s a place for that here, and it’;s really special to be invited in. It is a challenging play in the sense that its it’s not treated with respect, the play could fall flat because it needs to be given the vibrancy that’s in the words, in the performance and in the set, in the environment, so I think that if you’re going to do this play, you’re going to need to do it RIGHT and my goal is to frickin’ nail it. That’s the only way to address that challenge.

CoHo: Lindsay, I understand that you are a Portland playwright! What does this play mean to Portland, and how do you think this piece is going to play or impact our community?
Devon: The show is so much about healing, and for me, as we’re in the middle of the pandemic still and there’s been so much hardship in our city, everywhere… I’m just tired of really sad, depressing theater. I kind of need a break from it, and I think that we’re not the only ones, so bringing a show about healing, love, and home, I think is just what the doctor ordered.

Rebecca: Going along with that too, change is really hard, and this show, for me, is really all about constant change, and especially in Portland, things are shifting and changing all the time around us, geographically, city-wide, politically, how we fit into our state, into our country, into the world… This piece allows you to take a deep breath and go – change is hard, but it is necessary, and it doesn’t have to be daunting. It is just a part of life, and we can all sit with that for a moment and be ok with it.

Lindsay: Exactly. Change is hard, but it’s also so worth it, and none of us are alone in that change. With this piece, it’s like you have your community sitting right next to you in the audience, welcoming you inside, saying come sit with us, be here – we gotchu.

CoHo: What do you hope audiences take away with them after seeing The Way You Made Me?
Lindsay: I think I want people to make space for themselves. I think one of my favorite comments I didn’t know that I needed when the show was performed back in Loveland Ohio back in August, was when the Director was like, “I had so many people coming up to me and commenting, Oh my gosh I need to call my mom, I need to call my daughter.” I want that. This feeling that like, I haven’t talked to this person in a while, or told them I loved them. I’m going to go do that.

Rebecca: I hope they feel welcome, welcome to do exactly what Lindsay said, to make space for themselves. I hope they feel welcome to laugh, cry, feel, snuggle, do what they need to do in order to heal and make a home for themselves because home isn’t just the physical space, home is also a mental state as well. I just hope they feel that kind of journey of finding home and are welcome to feel it as well.

Devon: I want them to be overcome with this feeling of, I need to get cozy, I need to connect, I need to connect with people. Make space for my feelings, their feelings, live in a place where things can be messy and sad, but not disappear into that, but kind of have that feeling of warmth. I hope it gives people what they need, whatever that might be.

The Way You Made Me is a CoHo Mainstage production and will run at the CoHo Theater between December 1 – 18, 2022, Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets to this play are all Pay-What-You-Can and are available online in advance, and for purchase at the box office on the day of the performance (the CoHo box office opens one hour before every show). Audience members are invited to come in comfy clothes – wear slippers to the show, break out your best pajamas, bring your favorite blanket, and come ready and willing to experience something warm and intimate in a different way. 

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