San Francisco’s Queen of Monologues Turns 35 in Style
A million years ago, in 2018, when sitting in the confines of a tiny theater in the Tenderloin wasn’t anxiety-inducing in the least, I caught “Altars for my Alters” at the SF Fringe Festival. While most solo Fringe shows are minimalistic, often performed by a person in black using only a chair as a prop, Edna Mira Raia had somehow managed to use her 15 minutes of turnover time between shows to fully transform the space.
Pushing a full cart of props down the narrow hallway during the busy transitional load-in time that leaves the hallways suffocated with audience members and performers alike, this couldn’t have been an easy task. But Raia is that type of performer: the type that uses what she has to the fullest extent. The show was an extravaganza of wildly different characters, complete with full costume and makeup changes done on stage, and it was nothing if not memorable.
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Originally from Texas, Raia has been living and creating in the Bay Area for the last 16 years, studying Performing Arts & Social Justice at USF, then training post-grad in neo-classic mime and clowning at the late Flying Actor Studio. She founded Potatoes Mashed Comedy in 2015, and in addition to being a regular drag performer in “Palace of Trash,” also runs her own sketch comedy show called “Edna in a Bottle,” which, like everything, has recently gone digital.
I don’t need to explain how much the pandemic has changed the performing arts these days; we’re all bitterly aware of how many of the joys of live performance have been taken from us. Some have adapted better than others. But if there’s anyone you can trust to adapt to a new medium and make the best of it, it’s a performer like Raia.
For her 35th birthday, she will be hosting a virtual screening of “Altars for my Alters,” accompanied by a Zoom birthday drum and bass party on Friday February 5th. The show was directed by Michael Sommers, who you might recognize from one of my favorite films “Sorry To Bother You,” and produced by Kym Hawkins. It’s sure to be a fascinating use of the medium, and a little splash of light in the darkness of the times we live in!
WARNING: NOT FOR CHILDREN. MATURE CONTENT. NUDITY.