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"Life is hard, let's laugh about it" and more lessons from The Ladies

October 8, 2019

Let Your Lady Out, like other productions by Leanne Schmidt and Marlene Strang AKA The Ladies, doesn’t give the audience a chance to be passive observers. The Ladies, on their journey of self-embetterment, bring viewers along the path towards a brighter future with them, hilariously accusing all of us in Changing Hands that evening of also being in need of the expert advice offered by the self-help authors there that evening.

 

The Ladies promised a night of unsolicited advice and delivered a smart, uncomfortably relatable evening of attempts towards self-improvement under the guidance of The Authors, played by Steve Wilcox, Kevin Godfrey-Chevalier, Guillermo Flores-Sepulveda, and Ramon Soto. The four obliviously mansplain-y lifestyle coaches remind us that before the Instagram influencer, we had self-help authors to give us, the poor, slovenly, unenlightened public All The Answers. The Authors provide the Ladies and the audience alike with step-by-step directions that will definitely work to completely change your life, like totally. No refunds, by the way.

 Photo courtesy of The Ladies

 

In between pas de deaux-esque partnering and stiff, affected gestures, the Ladies recite tips to avoiding wrinkles in your t-shirts and engage discourse about whether or not underwear warrants folding. The specificity of the laundry rules, coupled with the dreamy balletic movement reveal the hidden banalities required to support the performance of a happy, effortless home life.

 

Reginald VelJohnson, played by Godfrey-Chevalier, guides those in attendance through his fail-proof guide to effective parenting based on his wealth of experience as a non-breeder. As he lectures the audience on how to get their kids under control, The Ladies acts as perfect examples of the attention-seeking, tantrum-prone child that every parent fears taking out into public. They yank the self-professed expert in every direction, hanging off of his arms, letting their legs buckle beneath them. As VelJohnson asks the audience to join him in springing, snapping, and shush-ing, The Ladies with their flinging and swinging prove to the audience that this guy’s “professional opinion” might be…. ineffective, to say the least.

Photo courtesy of The Ladies

 

Among all the unsolicited tidbits of advice launched at the audience, one valuable lesson comes through. The Ladies, with grimaces on their faces, show us that we are all uncomfortable and anxious and unsure of what the hell we’re doing. Through abrupt and stuttered speech, deer in the headlight stares, and “why do my arms hang the way they do and how do normal people walk, again?” physical comportment, the Ladies hold up a mirror to the daily embarrassments of being a person with a body and responsibilities. 

 

In terms of lifestyle, responsibilities, and relationships, I have nothing in common with The Ladies. I’m a single dog mom living alone. I’ve never gotten into an argument about how clothes “are supposed” to be folded. I don’t have to worry about whether or not Claus (my five year-old Jack Terrier mix) will have a crying meltdown in front of my friends. But I still feel seen by this show. The Ladies take the doubt and confusion we all experience and allows us as audience members to commiserate together. “Laughter makes the best medicine” is something that personal finance guru H. Hillary Vanderpepper, played by Flores-Sepulveda, might say simply because it’s cheaper, but Let Your Lady Out shows us that when it comes to awkwardness and discomfort, sharing a laugh is as good a cure as there is out there.

 

Dienae Hunter is a movement and performance artist currently trying their best in ASU’s Creative Enterprise and Cultural Leadership Master’s program. They don't really look like this picture anymore because they shaved their head due to the mounting pressure of going to get a haircut. Claus (who is a dog) hasn't changed a bit.

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