Gina Vivinetto

Gina Vivinetto is an award-winning journalist and fiction writer. She first saw her words in print at age 11 when BMX Plus! published a poem of hers. Since then, her short fiction has appeared in Creative Loafing and the journals New Orleans Review, and Boulevard. Her arts and entertainment pieces have been published in NBC.com, People.com, Rockrgrl, Washington City Paper, Chicago Sun-Times, Tampa Tribune, and the St. Petersburg Times, among other media outlets. She teaches writing at the University of Tampa.

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Five Questions: Aleshea Harris

Playwright Prepares for Edinburgh Fringe Festival

By Gina Vivinetto on June 28, 2012 6:27 PM Aleshea Harris Aleshea Harris photo by BWL Photography (bwlphotography.zenfolio.com)
Playwright Aleshea Harris may live in California, but her heart is in St. Petersburg, the city she calls her artistic home. Born in Germany, Harris studied theater at the University of Southern Mississippi, moving after college to St. Petersburg to be a member of the Eckerd Theater Company. Now, she’s a graduate student at California Institute of the Arts.
 
Harris was recently in St. Petersburg to perform her one-woman show Oddlie, which has been accepted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Also a poet and a musician, Harris takes time out of her busy day to answer Five Questions about life, art, and the fundraising campaign to get Oddlie to Edinburgh in July.
 
 
1. Rip.Tied., your first full-length play, made its debut in St. Pete and featured an onstage tank filled with 3000 gallons of water. Please explain.
 
The play had a couple of readings, an open one at my school -- California Institute of the Arts -- and a closed one for the director’s sake at a theatre in Maryland. It calls for lots of water and (the St. Petersburg theater) freeFall was excited about making that happen. Rip.Tied. takes place in and around a home following a hurricane, so the house is flooded. Water is a recurrent theme within the piece.
 
2. Oddlie, your one-woman show, is on its way to Edinburgh. Tell us about this opportunity, the festival and your fundraising campaign.
 
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest of its kind in the world. I’ve never been, but I hear it’s a whirlwind of all kinds of stuff: traditional theatre, storytelling, street performances, dance. I can't wait.
 
CalArts sends a company to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every year and I was accepted to take Oddlie this year. This is especially exciting because when I created the show, one of my goals was to take it to Edinburgh. Getting seen at Edinburgh could be a big deal for Oddlie or a no deal. Naturally, I would love to meet people who could help me take my work to unexplored communities or even new collaborators. We’ll see what happens. If I go to Scotland and take in some good art and walk away still in love with Oddlie, all is well.
 
We’ve got an indiegogo campaign. We’re trying to raise $5,000. As of right this second, we haven’t even reached the halfway mark and are running out of time, so anyone who is able to give, please do so!
 
3. Can you sum up Oddlie in a paragraph?
 
Oddlie is an unfortunate young woman who is ignored by everyone and leads a pretty miserable existence. Everything changes the first time she hears the brash and unapologetic Rope Haired Man, a spoken word poet. His bold assertion that he is “nobody’s gutta” sets Oddlie afire in pursuit of poetry. Oddlie then encounters Sasha, a former poet starlet whose right arm holds an invisible thing, whose body is bent with disease and whose spunk guides Oddlie from Here to There. But Oddlie’s most important encounter is the one with herself, the truth of where she’s been and where she hopes to go.
 
4. Have you always been this creative? What's your secret?
 
I have always had a pretty creative spirit. As a kid I loved to draw and make up stories with my dolls. My younger brother jokes about how he remembers being thoroughly entertained by the Barbie drama I created back in the day. I have always written, too. I don’t have a secret, just an overwhelming impulse to try and make sense of the world through art and/or to say something that might mean something to someone else.
 
5. How do you pay your bills? That is, do you have a day job?
 
I? Pay bills? Perish the thought.
 
 
Learn more about Oddlie and the campaign to bring it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at www.indiegogo.com/Oddlie.