Kimberly C. Roberts
After a successful premiere last April, “Olivia Lost and Turned Out,” a candid drama by Charron Monaye, returns to the intimate stage of the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center for one performance only at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1.
In this true story directed by Philadelphia native Franchella Simmons, Ontaria “Kim” Wilson stars as Olivia, a woman who is trying to overcome the pain of her past. Molested by her father, abused by her mother and turned on to drugs and prostitution to survive, Olivia is now faced with a major decision. Does she allow her past to keep her voiceless and bitter or does she face her parents and tell her story as a means to break free and save herself? The play focuses on the concept of strength, forgiveness and the power of accepting choices.
Playwright Charron Monaye, a North Philly native, became involved in creating “Olivia Lost and Turned Out” when Simmons, a Facebook friend, approached her about the project.
“Franchella saw the other productions and books that I write,” Monaye explained in a recent Philadelphia Tribune interview. “So she reached out to me and was like, ‘Hey, I have a friend of mine who has a story, and it’s on my heart to put it out, but I can’t write it, so can you help me?’
“So she [introduced] me and the young lady that this story is inspired by (Stacy Minor), and I kind of got a gist of her story, and not only the need of it to get out there, but the importance of it to get out there. Not only for the healing of other people that I know are trying to overcome being poor victims of this, but for herself. A lot of the things that I write are real life. Real conversations, real dialogue. So just hearing Stacy’s story, which this is inspired by, and knowing firsthand of other people who are dealing with this, it was like, ‘You know what? We need to heal!’”
“Olivia Lost and Turned Out” is the directorial debut for Simmons, an Overbrook High School graduate with no theatrical background or experience.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Simmons said. “Of course, I always step out on faith, and I am very business-oriented and a very organized person. The reason we did a play instead of a book is because I’m visual, and I like to see things in front of me. I love movies and plays, and the budget of a movie is a little out of our league, so we decided to do a play.
“So I listened to the story. Me and Stacy, we sat at her table and we cried together. Most recently, I talked to a lot of women — went to some of the shelters and talked to them about some of the things that they went through, and they all have this similar story, which is amazing.”
Now that “Olivia Lost and Turned Out” is capturing public attention, Simmons has hopes of having the provocative piece made into a feature film.
“I’ve done a lot in recent years, and I can say this project here, I have been so proud of,” she said. “I have a wonderful cast. Kudos to Charron who, when I spoke with her ... because she’s not the only one I spoke to — I’m not a writer, I’m not even trying to be a writer. I’m trying to stay in my lane. When I reached out to her, she, without hesitation, had a 10-page synopsis in my email, so I knew she was ready to work. Once I built that team, and it’s so important to have the perfect team together, there was no stopping us!”
Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center is located at 7 Lock St. in Manayunk. For information call (215) 685-3583 or visit veniceisland.org/events/olivia-lost-and-turned-out-1.