Search for Love : Allyson Adams draws on her brief foray into stripping to explore such issues as exploitation and feminism in her first full-length play.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Janice Arkatov writes about theater for Valley Life

Allyson Adams didn’t much enjoy her time as a stripper in New York a decade ago. But she did get a play out of it.

“It’s an arena for me to communicate the things I feel and experience, things I know,” said the actress, whose first full-length play, “Pink,” begins previews July 9 at the American Renegade Theatre as part of its Foundry series. “The play is not about sex. But it is a hot spot--this fertile ground where a woman takes off her clothes--to examine issues that are important to me.”

The Hollywood native, daughter of the late ‘60s actor Nick Adams, speaks with reticence of her brief foray into stripping.

“I regret nothing I’ve done,” Adams said flatly. “I did it because I was a dancer, and I needed the money fast. At first, it was fun, but that wears off very quickly--like about 15 minutes. Ultimately, it’s a game, a trade-off. It’s a deal you make with the men. But there really is something empowering about dancing. Even when I was doing it, I knew I would write about it someday. So I studied the world, observed it like an actress.”


Kelli Maroney plays the lead role of Brandy Lee, and Adams admits that she enjoyed giving the actress how-to pointers on the fine art of stripping. But she stresses that the setting for the story is merely a backdrop for issues of exploitation, feminism and power that she wanted to explore. The play, which evolved from a short story she wrote last year, “is a spiritual, sexual journey examining the double standards of female sexuality in our society,” Adams said.

American Renegade Theatre company member Gail Bearden (last seen onstage in the Foundry’s recent production of “Buyers’ Market”) is making her professional directorial debut with the 10-character drama, which she praises for its “poetry and dreamlike quality.”

“I was entranced with it from the moment I started reading,” Bearden said. “The subject matter is dark, hard, the ugly side of life. But the character of Brandy had a lot of depth that appealed to me.” The other characters include two strippers--aspiring actress Starla and single mother Ebony, club owner Mario, bartender David, Brandy’s no-good boyfriend Ray, and young cowboy Dennis. The setting is a dark, dingy Times Square bar circa 1983--not unlike the one in which Adams worked.

“The play deals with feminism, but at the core is a search for love,” said Mississippi-born Bearden, who studied at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse with Geraldine Page and did much “off-off” Broadway theater work before moving to Los Angeles in 1990. “The biggest mistake that we make with children is not to tell them they’re the most perfect person in the world, and that you can’t look for love outside yourself.”


Bearden--who cheerfully admits that her directing debut has given her “a whole new respect” for directors--allows that she came to the piece with her own preconceptions: “When people hear the word stripper , they put a judgment on it. I think this play shows the humanity of that world. But there’s no nudity: no pasties or G-strings--well, maybe a thong. But that’s it. We’ve got to leave something to the audience’s imagination.”


What: “Pink.”

Where: American Renegade Theatre, 11305 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.

When: Previews begin July 9. Opens July 16 and plays 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Closes Aug. 15.

Price: $10 to $12; half price for previews.

Call: (818) 763-4430.