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~ Francine Conley ~

Artist Profile

Since 1991 I have collaborated on a variety of French and American theatrical productions, and in 2001 I helped found the Franco-American theatre troupe, Théâtre de la Chandelle Verte. Besides this troupe work, I have written, produced and performed seven of my own multimedia one-woman plays.

My most recent show, Lost & Found (2005-7), was set in an airport's Lost & Found department. I portrayed eleven lost and searching characters who emerge from the shelves of unclaimed things: a young Muslim redefines her American dream, a suburban mom tackles more than Swedish in Stockholm, an exiled Russian finds her past in a coffee cup and more. The monologues, music and imagery in this play reflected on the many forms of personal, cultural and geographic displacement we encounter in today's increasingly globalized world.

Between 2000 and 2004, I designed a trilogy of multimedia plays -- The Purse Project (2000), Windows (2002) and Shoes! (2002-4). This series was inspired by the idea of purses, windows and shoes as practical objects as well as irresistible forces of personal, sexual and cultural invention. All three shows brought out characters whose stories underscored the importance of status, class, style, sexuality, voyeurism, and necessity in these mundane objects. Where purses evoked themes of containment, sexuality, and identity, windows yielded notions of voyeurism, perspective and witness. Finally, shoes encapsulated identity, transformation and journey. The characters I performed and the accompanying imagery and music invited the audience in turn to dump the contents of their purses, break their windows, and bare the souls of their own shoes.

My current show, I Swear I Can Fly! came first as a challenge from Neal Radice, Artistic Director of the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, New York. After seeing Lost and Found Neal challenged me to create a longer version show of Purses, Windows and Shoes. I was set to stage the play at the Alleyway in February 2007 but was deterred by the happy accident of my pregnancy and our son's birth this April. In so many words, this great deus ex machina had its own consequences on the nature of I Swear I Can Fly!, a show originally intended to stir up stories about flying or the desire thereof. Needless to say, I had to set back the urge to fly and succumb to the gravity of not performing after the eighth month.

Just when I thought I was stuck at the fork in a very pregnant road fate snatched the original idea and took it on Bob Frost's lesser known "other" path. Now I Swear I Can Fly promises instead of a revival of old shows a mix of new characters about just this: the caesura and other surprises women and men experience pregnant and beyond. Like after twenty hours of hard labor, the stories I have collected and begun to reassemble for this play will help you laugh, cry, and swear you can fly too.

-July 2007