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The Rural We: Lauren Letellier

Playwright, public relations consultant, voiceover artist and Hillsdale, New York resident Lauren Letellier will perform her one-woman show, “The Fiery Sword of Justice,” on Saturday, June 3 at 3 p.m. at the historic Ancram Opera House. Her critically acclaimed comedy about how one businesswoman’s compulsive truth-telling torpedoed her career, will be staged to benefit the Roeliff Jansen Community Library, and will be followed by a reception with Letellier and the show’s director, Martha Wollner. 

I born in Springfield, Mass. and lived there until I was 13, when my family moved to southern New Hampshire. Then I spent the rest of my teenage years trying to get out of New Hampshire. My husband, Chris, and I moved to Hillsdale full time on Dec. 29, 2014. I remember the date because it was the beginning of an epically snowy winter. After 34 years in Manhattan, we plunged into the polar darkness.

The Fiery Sword of Justice is a story about telling truth to power. I’d never written a play before, and I was looking to do something more along the lines of storytelling at the Moth, but my workshop teacher, Matt Hoverman, convinced me the story had a universal message. I worked in pharmaceutical PR, and thought it was so great, that they were the noblest form of capitalism in that they were helping people and curing diseases. But, over time, that changed and they started advertising directly to consumers and hiring celebrity spokespeople, and they became devoted to shareholders first. Basically, I got fired from a big PR agency for telling the truth.

With absolutely no experience, I submitted the play to The New York International Fringe Festival and they accepted it. It got some great reviews, it sold out and I’ve been performing it ever since. It’s a comedy. But it’s also about how I realized that I’d spent my life growing up with a mother addicted to alcohol, and then my last three years working for a woman who was a raging alcoholic. I had sort of recreated my family in the workplace and wound up being ejected from it in the same way. Recently, I read that 49 percent of people have a first-degree relationship with an alcoholic, usually parents or a spouse. No wonder work life is so crazy!

Photo by Michael Blase

I’ll be doing a Q&A after the performance with Martha Wollner. During the Q&A session, people will often say things like “That just happened to me at my job” or “I never put two and two together.” They’ve actually been recreating trauma in the workplace. What’s been so interesting is that I’ve watched people realize that they’re not alone; we just haven’t heard much, in the theater world, from people in corporate jobs. When I was going through it, I thought I was the only person who’d ever had this kind of failure.

I still do communication consulting, and I’ll be the world’s oldest intern at the Ancram Opera House this summer. Chris and I were recently named the town’s historians. Chris is chair of the Roe-Jan Library gala this year, which is on June 17, and I’m his deputy. There are some amazing auction items this year. Two of the live auction items are a lunch with Andy Borowitz and a lunch with Ruth Reichl.

The new play that I’m working on is about a woman with an urban soul who moves upstate. It’s a comedy, a fish-out-of-water story. It’s been a journey — from being a big-time PR person to finding ourselves in a town of 1,900 people. It actually requires tremendous energy from the townspeople to keep the town board, schools and other entities going. These issues are a lot more important than what I used to think was important in NYC. It requires people to read up a lot on so many things, and to cooperate with their neighbors.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/24/17 at 10:05 AM • Permalink