Name: Amelia Longo
Shining Credits: Birthed her first literary baby-True Stories- this fall at First Person Arts Festival. As described in the playbill-“(a) witty an insightful memoir performance piece about her struggles with trust, truth, and expectations in love.” Oversold opening night!
Shining Soundtrack: Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple
Project Roots: I started writing True Stories in the spring of 2011 as part of a writing class. I’d been working on it for almost a year when I saw First Person Arts’ call for artists. My friend peer pressured me into applying to FPA. Another friend went and signed me up for the Bridal Salon Reading Series at the Painted Bride while I was busy hemming and hawing about it. This process taught me a lot about just going for it, and about the vital importance of community support.
Crowd’s Reaction: At the performances, I watched the audiences more than the stage – I knew my actresses had it down, I wanted to see what people’s reactions were. In the play, there’s a part where I talk about how much I love the shark tunnel at the aquarium (as opposed to the hippos), it’s amazing how people latch on to this one section.
Straight from Playbill: I have cultivated this mystery of my life, behind sunglasses and headphones, polite yet brief exchanges, and it is unraveling inch by tiny inch.
How do I get your shine? A little bit of heartbreak and a lot of obstinance.
Biggest Fears: I thought this was a story about how completely nuts I am. I wasn’t sure anyone would still be on my side once they got through it. I was amazed to find out how many women, and men even, identified with it. So many people came up to me after the show, to tell me they thought they were the only ones, that they were crazy. There are a lot of stories we’re not comfortable hearing, which means there are a lot of stories people don’t get to tell. There are a lot of people in my life that make appearances in the story. I don’t use names, and I don’t think I treated anyone harshly or unfairly, but I still didn’t know how they’d react to hearing about themselves.
And then there was the sexy stuff. I was nervous about sharing some of that detail (with my parents especially), but in the end, it was a part of the story, and it was a story I needed to tell, so I just bit the bullet. Besides, I’m almost thirty years old. I think my mom would be more concerned if she thought I wasn’t having sex.
Double Dog Dare: I double dog dare you to share your story. Whatever’s been haunting you, been on your brain. Write it down, tell it to a friend, make a podcast, whatever. Just get it out there, because it matters.
Inspiration: A friend of mine said The True Story reminded him of Amy Fusselman’s work and lent me a copy of The Pharmacist’s Mate. I was floored. Her writing is sparse and lovely. I am so goddamn glad I found it. She gave me the courage to call what I was doing memoir or nonfiction. Before doing so, I used The True Story to apply to fiction writing programs, which made absolutely no sense, and I’m sure is just part of the reason I got thirteen rejections. But when I read Fusselman’s work, I knew I had found a comrade, a home, a genre.
A Warrior Princess