Topics : Fields Adds ‘Vanities’ to Her Crop of Projects


Kim Fields is busy.

Five days a week, she’s on a TV sound stage, playing Regine in the Fox comedy series “Living Single,” now in its second season. A couple of nights each week she teaches acting at the Harvest School of Performing Arts in West Hollywood, where she’s also the executive director. During her summer hiatus from the TV show, she shot a short film, “Silent Bomb”--which she co-wrote, executive produced and directed--that recently had a screening at the Black Filmmakers Foundation. And in her off-moments, she’s directing a play.

Well, make that re-directing. This past summer, Fields, 25, made her stage directorial debut with a revival of Jack Heifner’s relationship comedy “Vanities” at The Complex in Hollywood. Last month, the production was the recipient of four NAACP Awards for local theater--for best costumes (Fontella Boone), choreography (Wendy Robinson and Diann McCanon), supporting actress (Teresa Truesdale) and director (Fields). Tonight, the show reopens at the The Complex, with all but one member of the original cast.

“Basically, the play tracks the lives of three best friends, from seniors in high school, to college, to their late 20s,” explained Fields, who played Tootie on the TV series “Facts of Life” (1979-88). “I think of the title as a double-entendre--referring to them being very vain, concerned with their appearance--and also in terms of what they’re interested in: boyfriends, sororities, wedding colors. As adults, they realize the shallowness of their lifestyle.”


As for the bare-bones staging, she says, “Jack (Heifner) specified that in his notes. The blocking and sets are minimal because it’s a character study. Audiences are used to looking at elaborate props, . . . but here you’re forced to focus on the characters.

They include Joanne, whom Fields describes as “the shallowest one, walking the fine line between naivete and prissiness.”

The director dubs Mary as “the sarcastic one, the experimenter of the group. She thinks everything should change.” Kathy is “the organizer, the planner--but scared of the reality of growing up, dealing with life.”

In most of its past incarnations, “Vanities” (which had its local premiere at the Mark Taper Forum in 1976 and is often revived in college and community theater productions) has been performed by three white actresses. In this staging, nine black actresses play the three roles.

“How that happened was, I was sitting around my living room and there were nine of us,” said Julie Ann Lucas, whose No Divaz Allow’d Productions (so named because she insists on actors “who can come without ego, be sincere about their talent and their ability to create lives off of a page”) is producing the show.

“These were actress-friends I admire and wanted to work with,” said Lucas, who is playing the high school-aged Kathy in “Vanities” and also co-starring and producing Crystal V. Rhodes’ four-character “The Trip” at The Complex.

Fields says it was the piece’s novel staging concept that initially drew her to the project. “By the grace of God, it works,” she said. “The different actresses make it very clear which character is which.” As for the text, she says: “You can hear in the dialogue--these are not black girls in the South in 1963. This was not written with black people in mind. So the rhythms, the wording, are different.”


Juggling that many bodies also has its problems. “There are a lot of challenges in making nine into three,” acknowledges the Harlem-born Fields, who notes that rehearsals this time have been limited to “a couple of cleanup sessions in my trailer” at Fox.

“Vanities” opens tonight and plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Dec. 17. “The Trip” opens Sunday and plays Sundays at 8 p.m. through Dec. 18. The Complex is located at 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. Tickets for each show are $12. For reservations, call (213) 466-1767.