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Character study: Vortex Theatre to put on online production of ‘Talking With …’

A baton twirler spouts revelations as she spins, a fundamentalist handles a curling snake and a dementia patient unravels in Jane Martin’s “Talking With …”

Eleven women amuse, move and frighten, always speaking from the depths of their souls in Martin’s 1982 play.

Sophia Wasteneys is the “Twirler” from “Talking With … .” (Courtesy of The Vortex Theatre)

The Vortex Theatre’s online production of “Talking With …” stars a cast of 11 Albuquerque actresses at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays Jan. 22-31. All performances are free, but reservations must be made at

Director Tim Crofton has long used the play in his acting classes.

“I’m a teacher and invariably my acting classes contain a lot of women,” he said. “Good monologues for women are still relatively thin on the ground.”

No narrative thread connects the characters, each of whom gives a 10-minute monologue.

Debi Kierst in “Lamps” from “Talking With … .” (Courtesy of Vortex Theatre)

The play includes the pieces “Fifteen Minutes,” “Scraps,” “Clear Glass Marbles,” “Audition,” “Rodeo,” “Twirler,” “Lamps,” “Handler,” “Dragons,” “French Fries” and “Marks.” The ladies cover a wide spectrum of life and age from the fading star in “Rodeo” to the young aspiring actress in “Audition”

“We have a snake handler who works for an extreme southern church that uses snakes as part of their rituals,” Crofton said. “There is a young woman who is a champion (baton) twirler. As she twirls, she comes to epiphanies.

“There’s a woman who lives in Oz (as in “The Wizard of Oz”), he continued. “There’s another whom, in reaction to a rather boring first half of her life, tattoos her entire body.”

All of the rehearsals and preparations occurred online using COVID-19 safety precautions.

“We have put this together without seeing each other in person,” Crofton said. “I think initially I was a bit reticent to get involved in online theater. But there seems to be more of a commitment. It could be a whole new art form.”

Originally from north London, Crofton has always been involved in theater, from acting to behind-the-scenes work to directing. He moved to Albuquerque five years ago and teaches for Albuquerque Public Schools.

“Talking With …” stars Debi Kierst, Alaina Warren Zachary, Carolyn Hogan, Abby Van Gerpen, Deborah Blanche, Michelle Belmont, Sophia Wasteneys, Christy Burbank, Catalina Lehrner, Robin Havens-Parker and Fabiana Borghese.

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