Truth & Beauty

(wanna just see the show?  Skip to the bottom of the page for information OR click here to purchase tickets)

betsy cross and jessica wallenfels(betsy, jessica, and w)

I moved to Portland in 2006 after finishing an intense journey of self-discovery and growth.  Graduate school at Dell' Arte was one of the most equally difficult and moving experiences I've ever encountered in my life.  I came to Portland, inspired, cynical, and with a very specific view on theatre in America and the kind of theatre I was interested in doing.  The reality: it's super hard to find. I found comfort in a close Portland friend who had been through the 1st year of the MFA with us.  I had just turned 23 when I first met the amazing Jessica Wallenfels, it was 2003.  She knew where I was coming from; she was interested in similar things---physical, visceral, immediate, funny, honest theatre.  I didn't know how or where it would take us, but I knew we had to work together.  In 2007, I wrote a simple email, something like---let's get on our feet together.  She agreed.  And we did just that.  At the time, I was reading a book called Truth & Beauty, by Ann Patchett.  I lent it to her.  We were both moved by it.  We started on our feet, messing with the ideas, connections, and boundaries of friendship.  We played with other texts and thoughts, throwing them all together:  letters she had received from an old friend, Rainer Maria Rilke, we exchanged stories of deep friendships we'd had in our own lives, Pablo Neruda,  pictures by Annie Leibowitz, etc.  The possibilities were endless and we bounced around to as many as we could. truth and beauty truth and beauty truth and beauty truth and beauty truth and beauty

(jessica, elizabeth, betsy...who wouldn't want to see a show by these crazy gals?)

"I do not remember our love unfolding, that we got to

know one another and in time became friends.  I only

remember that she came through the door and it was

there, huge and permanent and first.  I felt I had

been chosen by Lucy and I was thrilled.  I was

twenty-one years old and very strong.  She had a

habit of pitching herself into my arms like a softball

without any notice.  She liked to be carried."  ---Ann


Our friendship thickened through the process.  We danced together, experiemented with different choreography on each other, laughed a lot, and before each rehearsal play time, we  shared stories of our current trials and tribulations, listening to each other the way one does with only a close family member or friend.  Those moments colored our work together.  I was fasicnated by the parallel between our own lives and friendships and the ones in the stories that made up the book.  We kept our minds open and kept experimenting with other texts, meshing them together, but we always came back to the original impetus---Truth & Beauty. Fast forward through Scandinavia, breakups, Hawaii, starting a jewelry business (what??) Spain, job changes, a mutual best friend finally moving to Portland from Philly (who would ultimately, brilliantly, be the glue for this project), the deepest of loves, overcoming things we had no idea we carried the strength for, letting go, and marriage.  We have come a long way...and so has this piece.  We would love for you all to join us in this final journey and see how far we've come.

This play is based on a true story that in one way or another we can all

relate to.  It is based on fear, pain, love, hope, growing up, failing,

flailing, succeeding, heartbreak, heartache, joy, despair, and moving

beyond it all.

Don't miss it. From the Press Release:
“Truth and Beauty” depicts a visitation, portraying two unforgettable characters on a search for personal and professional greatness. When hardworking Ann Patchett (Betsy Cross) befriends the outrageous Lucy Grealy (Jessica Wallenfels, “Mutt,” “Rest Room,” choreographer of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at OSF and “Sometimes a Great Notion” at PCS) in graduate school at the Iowa Writers Workshop, the two form a bond of friendship only death can break. Lucy comes to fame for Autobiography of a Face, a book exposing her recovery from cancer of the jaw at the age of nine and its devastating effects on the rest of her life. Ann finds critical and popular success in novel after novel with literary sensations The Magician’s AssistantThe Patron Saint of Liars, and Bel Canto.
While Lucy parades herself before the media as a cognoscente of female self-acceptance, her obsession with beauty drives her to suffer through over 30 facial and jaw surgeries, each more extreme than the last. Despite seeking a quietly productive life in Tennessee, Ann’s capacity to support Lucy under a crushing burden of self destruction is astonishing. Over 15 years, Ann and Lucy are not only tested by boyfriends, jealousy, depression and addiction, they share a friendship that defies definition and makes the observer wonder if they’ve ever had as good a friend.
Directed by Elizabeth Klinger.  Played by Jessica Wallenfels, Betsy Cross, and Joe Spencer.
“Truth and Beauty” showtimes are Jan. 22-23 and Jan. 28-30 at 8:30pm, following Shaking the Tree’s “Memory Water: A Story of Love, Loss and Liquid” at 7pm. Tickets are available online, by phone at 503-205-0715, or at the Hollywood Theatre, open daily between 1pm to 9pm. For more information, go to
***Song of the Moment: Love->Building on Fire, by Talking Heads***


Group 7