Sunday, December 11, 2011

Charlayne Woodard's The Night Watcher: Auntie's On Duty

In her newest one woman show, "The Night Watcher," a stage, a chair, and minimal creative accompaniments, is all Obie winning and Tony nominated actress, Charlayne Woodard, needs to poignantly and effectively challenge the notion that every woman needs to have a child of her own to truly fulfill her purpose in life.

Playing currently at the Kirk Douglas Theater, "The Night Watcher," is a fabulous demonstration of the art of storytelling at its best. Pulling from experiences of friends and family trying to tempt and persuade the actress into motherhood, Woodard charmingly introduces us to the various children that have come into her life and how she became their "Auntie".

Through her body and amazing talent she channeled troubled and precocious nieces, nephews, and godchildren as they tell their stories of teenage pregnancy, molestation, race identity, and loneliness.  Each almost always asking her in their unique voice, "Auntie Charlayne, can you keep a secret?" And from that need to confide stems the inspiration behind the show's title.

How she transitions between caring adult to emotional child and back in one conversation is for lack of a better term, schizophrenic--but in a good way. Again, drawing from her well of talents and techniques, the award winning actress delivers emotional scenes between adult and child that relay how important it is for children to have someone in their lives they feel they can talk to.

But most of here scenes are not so heavy, some are quite funny. Explaining to a bratty godchild why "celebrity" Aunt Charlayne drove a Volvo instead of a Porshe was quite humorous. Then introducing the child to her new temporary home--an apartment not the Hollywood mansion she had expected hits home with any audience.

Of course explaining to her frustrated mother why she was buying an expensive coat for a new dog and not a child was LOL funny.  "I'm so disappointed with you and Harris (Woodard's husband)," she says. "The world is full of kids who need some real attention, and you up at the doggie boutique. All the other stars are adopting kids--black kids even! You and Harris on your second white dog."

So if Woodard cares so much about children why is she always Godmother and "Auntie" and never "Mom" nor "Mamma"? Simply, as a self proclaimed "blue-collar" actress she adores her idyllic "dogs-as-children" lifestyle with her husband. Not to mention as the oldest of five, Woodard gained motherhood experience early in life helping to raise own her siblings.

Still, doesn't EVERY woman desire to have kids of their own? No and that's okay. As "The Night Watcher" wonderfully points out, childless women and men have ample opportunities to impact children's lives directly. The role of god-parent, auntie, uncle, friend, and mentor should not be dismissed in their importance. The question is who's willing to really step into those roles when needed so that children don't fall through the cracks? If the picture of all her "kids" are any indication, Charlayne Woodard is doing it and doing it well.

Visit to learn more about the actress and her projects. "The Night Watcher" runs now until Dec.18 at Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City! I HIGHLY recommend it!


Dheeaba said...

This was indeed a very good show and considering I usually prefer the vantage point of the performer rather than the audience when it comes to theater, I was extremely happy to have witnessed this touching and well executed performance. I love inspiration and I was inspired both as an artist and just generally as a person.

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