Thursday, July 4, 2024

The Joy of Suspension of Disbelief


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June 22 2024

HICK Blossoms!

Do Come!

Sundays 5pm thru July 14

(more info below)




Well, the first night wasn't exactly Theater Heaven, as I had hoped, but with the second performance, I hit my stride.

I mean, the only one dissatisfied after the first night was me (at least as far as I know). In the beginning I kept stumbling over my words. I call it bobbling. It's just a mental glitch, but if you fall into "Oh no! I'm bobbling!", you cannot get out of it. You have to somehow find the flow, but you can't say to the audience, "Folks, I need a couple of minutes here to focus," because then you've destroyed the illusion that you're Lorena Hickok. You become a human being PRETENDING you are Lorena Hickok. Which of course you are. Not only that, you're having a bit of trouble with the pretending business. So the audience starts worrying about you. About YOU, the human, not HICK, the character.

And there goes the suspension of disbelief. And that's the most wonderful thing about theater. The audience at some deep level forgets they're in a theater, forgets you're telling a story, forgets you're an actress playing a part. They leave their own world and enter the world you have created. I AM Hick. The empty space I'm talking to IS Eleanor Roosevelt. The invisible Eleanor and I HAVE just left the restaurant and are going to Hick's apartment to make love.

I just love that about theater. Suspension of disbelief doesn't really exist in other art forms. When you attend a ballet, you don't forget that the Black Swan and the White Swan are really dancers and not swans. When you listen to music, which is the art that most easily touches my emotions, I never forget I'm listening to people singing or playing instruments. And in movies, everything is done by the filmmaker to create the REALITY of the story, so that the audience doesn't have to imagine it. In a film, if Hick professes her love to Eleanor in the Russian Tea Room, you damn well rent the place so you can do the scene there!

But theater demands something different, and the audience glories in giving it (if you're not bobbling every few minutes and reminding them that you're an actress whose mouth can't seem to deliver the right words.)

Well, I finally righted the HICK ship, and was able to merge with Hick in the way I love. And I was rewarded in the last scene when Hick tears up one of Eleanor's letters. The whole audience gasped. Now, audience members had told me after a performance that they found Hick tearing up the letter shocking. But no one has ever audibly responded at the moment until June 9.

That gasp was very precious to me. I will never forget it. The audience had completely suspended its disbelief. At that moment, the piece of paper was not a prop. It was an actual letter from Eleanor to Hick, and they had witnessed its destruction.

In contrast, at the second performance, the audience was totally silent the whole time. I'd never experienced that before. I was used to being energized by the audience's laughte. There are many humorous moments in this very serious story. I started worrying -- was I doing something wrong? Were they refusing to get involved?

And then I righted myself. I said to myself, I'm here to tell Hick and Eleanor's amazing story, and it's alright if people don't laugh. I'm quite proud of myself for being able to adjust to the silence. And at the end, I was rewarded with the audience cheering what was perhaps my best performance ever.

Please do come see HICK: A LOVE STORY. My performance keeps changing -- enough so that people comment on the differences. I'm going much deeper emotionally, with the help of Sarah and Bill, my wonderful directors. All the info is below. Terry


Terry Baum in


Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's 2336 Letters to Lorena Hickok

When FDR became


in 1932,

his wife had a lesbian lover...


"Valiant, valuable & vivid." -- Baltimore Sun

June 9-July 14, 2024

Sundays @ 5pm

(Masks Required on June 30)


1062 Valencia St., San Francisco

(near 24th St. BART)


Parking Info

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