Michelle Milne feels like she's going to give birth this weekend.
But she's actually just delivering her graduate thesis in the form of a one-woman show, Looking for Lulu, presented by the Towson University MFA Theater Program today through Sunday at Theatre Project.
"I feel like I'm putting my new baby out there for everyone to see," says Milne, who is getting her master's degree in fine arts at Towson. "It's a very personal piece."
Looking for Lulu is loosely based on Milne's life and experiences. Milne was raised in Africa until she was 6 years old, then was brought up as Mennonite in Indiana, where she graduated from Goshen College with a bachelor of arts degree. After college, she lived and studied in Japan, Guatemala, England, the Netherlands, Malawi and Haiti, and as a result speaks three languages.
The show takes the audience on a similar international journey. For 65 minutes, Milne plays Lulu, a Mennonite woman who loses her sense of self and then finds it while traveling around the globe and through a rite of passage. Lulu breaks the stereotypes of what a young Mennonite woman is expected to be by traveling around the world to find out what being Mennonite means to her.
Although Milne is the only actor on stage, she interacts with recorded voices that speak Japanese throughout the show. In addition to voices, a variety of music - such as Japanese pop songs, Mennonite hymns and folk songs set to a beat - are a part of the show's soundtrack.
Barb Lanciers, another graduate student in the theater program at Towson and director of movement for the production, says the play is a fast-paced theater experience that takes the audience around the world.
"With the help of lighting, sound, vivid props and outrageous costumes, the show quickly takes you from the Mennonite homes in Indiana to neon Japan and the streets of Tokyo," she says.
Milne chose Towson's graduate school as the place to pursue her master's degree because of the program's support of self-produced work, she says.
"Towson is one of the few universities I could find that would let me perform and create my own work," she says.
Although Milne says creating a show for herself was a challenge and at times painful, she suspects that earning a graduate degree and getting to share her story will be well worth the discomfort.
"I wanted the audience to take this journey with me," she says.
"Looking for Lulu" runs today through Sunday at 8 p.m. at Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. Tickets are $11-$16. For tickets and more information, call 410-752-8558.
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