A Conversation with Anna LaMadrid
The actress and writer on the creation of her new solo show, “The Oxy Complex.”
If there is one thing this pandemic has exposed in many of us, it’s the need for some self-reflection.
In the new dark comedy, The Oxy Complex — written and performed by Anna LaMadrid and directed by Michelle Bossy — LaMadrid explores love and loneliness, and how one woman copes when cut off from the distractions of her everyday life.
Below, LaMadrid shares about some of the research that went into creating this timely and introspective piece.
Can you tell us a bit about your new solo show, ‘The Oxy Complex’?
The show opens up on the 500th day of quarantine with Viviana, who has been in isolation the entire time. She hasn’t been sleeping, and without the daily distractions and coping mechanisms of daily life, she is forced to reflect on her past in order to heal her future. It also explores how nature and nurture are making it harder and harder to be in a relationship, and explains the science behind that.
‘The Oxy Complex’ takes place on the 500th day of quarantine. When and why did you decide to write this piece?
I initially wrote the seed for this piece while I was in my second year of grad school at the University of Washington. It started as a 15-minute exploration about how technology was disrupting our biology when it came to online dating. And our addiction to hormones that are released without our consent. What was interesting to me when IAMA asked me to expand this piece for 2020 — was what was happening to us when the supply of oxytocin gets cut off while we quarantine. So essentially, we have a character going through withdrawal at the top of the show. On top of that, quarantine took away all of the distractions we have developed to cope with our unresolved traumas. It’s a collective time of reckoning and accepting ourselves. This was an interesting space for me to explore.
What do you hope audiences take away from this story?
I hope that they let themselves off the hook about their relationship status. I remember spending (maybe I should say wasting) a LOT of my early 30s blaming myself for being single. Questioning everything from my looks, to my age, to my ambition, etc. to try to explain why I somehow wasn’t good enough to be chosen by someone else. After doing research for this play, I now understand how both our biology and our behaviors are working against us to prevent us from forming healthy relationships. I have a lot more empathy for myself and others. I can let go of people easier. I don’t stress so much or take rejection personally. People are doing the best they can. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of them. It just means they aren’t in a place that allows them to be vulnerable with another person. Or do the work it actually takes to establish and maintain a healthy relationship. And that’s ok. It’s all ok.
What has kept you creatively motivated during quarantine?
Accountability? I don’t know if I would have finished this show if it wasn’t for the support of my director, Michelle Bossy. She made sure to schedule weekly meetings for me to share my writing with her. It really takes a village. I think as artists, we tend to beat ourselves up for not being productive enough. Or not creating enough. But this is an unprecedented time, and we all need to be easy with ourselves when it comes to “productivity guilt”. So please know…that I didn’t do this on my own. That I fought myself the entire time. And that I am very grateful for all the people who showed up and supported me throughout this process.
This was an interesting space for me to explore.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience filming this show?
It went really smoothly. Everyone was very professional and efficient. They all wore PPE, and we tested every other day during the week of production. I felt safe the entire time. It was so great to be back in a theatre space. And even though it was empty, it was just great to be in a room with a director and just be an actor vs. the actor and technical director when you are doing Zoom rehearsals.
What’s next for you?
Well…I’ve just been cast for a recurring role in an upcoming Hulu pilot. So I’m excited to work on that. Other than that, I’m focusing my energies on The New Triple Threat® — an online membership platform that I created with my teaching partner, Alyshia Ochse host of That One Audition podcast. We came together last May to teach self-tape classes during the first few months of quarantine. We found a huge gap in actor training for the skills required to live the life of a healthy working actor.
With The New Triple Threat®, we’ve created a library of online courses and a community that trains today’s actors in the Business, Tech, and Craft skills needed to book work. We are also making pricing accessible for all actors. So instead of paying $250 a month for just an audition class, you can pay as little as $57 a month and get access to our entire current and future library of courses ranging from how to set up your home studio, crafting characters, script analysis for auditions, budgeting for actors, actor contracts and more. And because it is all online, you can gain access that will make you competitive in any market, anywhere throughout the world. So it’s really exciting to expand our community into a global one.
For more information and to reserve tickets, go to www.iamatheatre.com. Anyone But Me will be streaming until April 18th.