A Word With Actress/Playwright Joanna Lipari

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Activities of Daily Living (ADL) is Joanna Lipari’s multimedia solo play that challenges the invisibility that older people experience in our culture. Through funny and poignant stories, ADL weaves together the threads of a life lived – and one hardly invisible. Activities of Daily Living will be performed in the Mike Luce Studio at the Kahilu Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. Ticket info below.

What was your inspiration for writing the play Actives of Daily Living?
I had returned to acting after about 15 years of being a clinical psychologist. I had been an actor when my daughter was younger. I went back to school and got a doctorate in clinical psychology and did an internship in geriatrics at the V.A. and then, later on, did a postdoc fellowship at UCLA… Flash forward, I was getting older and I wanted to return to acting. I loved my time at UCLA. I still consult, but I wanted to return to my first love and passion, which was acting.

Whenever you have someone that is over 65, by law, when you first meet them, you have to give them a geriatric assessment and see if they can do it. It’s ultimately kind of just soul-crushing to be asked… “Do you know who you are?” “What is your name?” I mean, it’s just insane and kind of insulting.

Joanna Lipari

Along the way, I started to realize that as an older woman in this society, I could rob banks, I am so “invisible.” I mean, I’d be the last person you’d looked for. It’s very shocking because people look at you as if you were born a little old lady. Some men get “invisible” too, but men basically fare a little better, especially if they have some money. The show’s about how you become visible when you’re invisible.

The show begins with me reading a pamphlet about the activities of daily living. I finally just say, “OK, my Medicare card came with a special ‘invisibility cloak.’ And then the very next line I stand up, I rip up the card.

What went into your decision to bring it to the Big Island?
I love the Big Island! I spent a lot of time there. My daughter learned to do the hula there when she was three. The Big Island has a temperamental quality to me. The Big Island is alive! It’s not just geography.

What was it like working with Director Beth Dunnington?
A friend of mine introduced me to Beth, who directed the (ADL) play and is connected to the Kahilu. And Beth runs writers’ workshops, pretty much all over the country. I went to some of Beth’s workshops and started writing stories. That was very rewarding. Beth and I talked about putting them in a book. And then Beth said, “What do you most want to do?” And I said, “I want to be an actor.” That’s when we decided that I would do a one-woman show based on my stories. When she decided to direct it, it seemed like the only place to have the world premiere would be at the Kahilu Theatre.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we go?
Just that Beth is brilliant! I couldn’t have done it without her!

If You Go… Have A Good Show!

Event: Joana Lipari’s Activities of Daily Living
Where: Kahilu Theatre/Mike Luce Studio
When: Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, at 2 p.m.
Cost: $35
Info: Tickets can be purchased at kahilutheatre.org, (808) 885-6868 or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela.
More on Joana Lipari: https://joannalipari.com


This interview was edited for clarity, continuity, and space. To listen to the full interview, click the play icon.


Steve Roby is a music journalist, an L.A. Times bestselling author, and a Big Island filmmaker. He’s been featured in The NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.

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