Word travels quickly in Fringe circles and the advance buzz about “Hedy! – The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr,” opening tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Indy Eleven Theatre is that it is one IndyFringe17 show you do not want to miss. With only three performances scheduled, the critically acclaimed solo play starring Heather Massie in the title role, also plays Saturday, Aug. 26 at 10:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 27 at 4:30 p.m.
Massie, who arrived in Indy a few days again from Ireland, is still basking in the glow of having received the Best Actress Award at the Galway Fringe Festival that took place in late July. Her IndyFringe show means a return trip to the city for Massie. “Hedy!” was an audience favorite this past March at Diva Fest so IndyFringe organization invited her to enter it into the festival.
Massie who is based in New York City, plays the Hollywood film actress and inventor in the piece which she also wrote. “Hedy!” she says “marries art and science in a way that inspires audiences to work each day to make the world a better place, and to inspire young women to pursue scientific endeavors.”
Recently I spoke by phone with Massie from Ireland, prior to her journey back to the states for the IndyFringe run. Below is an edited transcript of our chat.
“Hedy!” was obviously well received at Diva Fest. How was that experience for you?
It was wonderful and I am so pleased to be asked back to perform in IndyFringe. It was great to be one of six playwrights featured. It was fun as well because my friend Valarie Davis and I travelled together from New York. She has a play called “The Pink Hulk” which is about her being a two-time cancer survivor. She told me about Diva Fest to which we both applied and were accepted. I drove us out from NYC to Indianapolis. All the artists were so welcoming as were the audiences were very receptive. We were there during the second week of the festival. It was full tilt by the time we arrived.
How did you like Indy?
It’s beautiful. I would like to see more of it.
What do you find most compelling about Hedy Lamarr?
That she was an intelligent woman. She wasn’t expected to be and wasn’t treated as such. I am really on a mission to establish here name as being synonymous with an intelligent, powerful woman. She was a scientifically minded woman even though she was known as the most beautiful woman in the world. People were speechless in her presence because of her beauty but she also wanted to be known as someone who had a brain and could think. She created amazing inventions such as the secret communications system so that enemies could not intercept radio signals.
In simple terms, she invented wireless technology, right?
Yes. It was called frequency hopping or spectrum technology. It allows us to have the volume of telephone calls we have going on simultaneously. That couldn’t happen on the band of frequencies that is allowed for telephone calls. The signals would get crossed. Think of the millions of signals going through the air at s given time and they are all secure.
You have a science background yourself, do you not?
Yes. I studied astrophysics in college because I wanted to be an astronaut. In third grade, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut or an inventor. I settled on astronaut and now I am playing an inventor.
Is that why you identify with so much with Hedy.
Yes, because we are both actors and because I have always been interested in science.
Did she ever feel compromised having to maintain her image as a sex symbol even though she was such an intelligent woman?
I think she did. All that stuff wasn’t as important to her. She knew however that it was part of the business she was in but part of the reason she left it behind. Being known as a beauty was a burden because she had to maintain it. She had quite a bit of plastic surgery some of it in her earlier years was successful but in her later years it was not and she became reclusive.
What do you enjoy most about playing her?
It is so much fun (laughs)
I hear you replicate an orgasm she had in one of her movies?
(Laughs). I do scenes from her film “Ecstasy” and talk about that.
Did Hedy have a sense of humor?
Oh Yes. And I am really pleased that audiences respond to it. The play is based on the ironies of her life.
The biggest irony seems to be that she was a beauty but she was also nerdy, right?
Why, yes. Instead of going to Hollywood parties she preferred to stay at home with her drafting table and create inventions. That is what she liked to do. She has liked stimulating. intellectual conversations which she could find sometimes at Hollywood parties but not all the time. She was much happier at intimate gatherings or reading her references materials and creating objects to make the world a better place.
Do you ever feel like you were born to channel her?
A lot of people have told me that I channel her in the show and that is wonderful that people get that sense from the performance. I have a great deal of fun playing Hedy because I play all the characters in the play. 33 of them. The full version is 90 minutes but for Fringe it is 50.
Tell me about your research for playing the part?
I read every book I could find and studied all her films.
Did become or are you still obsessed with her?
You kind of have to embrace the story. This show is my life right now. This show is what I do. I try to work as many day jobs as I can when I am in NYC to survive because festivals cost a lot of money to do. Yes, it really is my life mission right now.
Do you think you were born to play Hedy?
I always knew that there was something important I had to do in my life but I didn’t know what it was. This might be it. I think I finally found my niche. In college, I went from astrophysics to theatre arts and I have always been waiting for the opportunity to combine science and art in my life and I never feel into something where that could happen unless I was in a play about a scientific matter so I am making that happen. I really wanted to bring science back into my life. I wanted to develop a play on a female scientist and to be able to be flexible enough to do it anywhere in a solo show, Hedy was in a mix of names of female scientists to consider and I felt her story stood out as one that needed to be told.
Through -Sunday, Aug. 27
Eight stages along Mass Ave
Tickets: $15 adult/$12 student-senior/$10 children under 12
Fiver pass – Five shows for $55
Buy tickets online at indyfringe.org
MISS INDYFRINGE PAGEANT
Wednesday, August 23, 10:30 p.m.
IndyFringe Basile Theatre
Whom will be crowned Miss IndyFringe? Join us as drag queens compete for the title in front of celebrity guest judges in categories such as Q & A, Fringe wear and talent. Tickets are just $15. All proceeds benefit IndyFringe. Bring your dollars to tip the girls! The contestant with the most tips gets bonus points. Audience participation is encouraged!
LATE NIGHT CABARET
Friday, Aug. 25, 11:59 p.m.
IndyFringe Basile Theatre
IndyFringe presents our first ever LATE NIGHT CABARET featuring 2017 IndyFringe artists. You never know what you’ll see! Warning: Adult language and content. Tickets are just $15. All proceeds benefit IndyFringe.
CLOSING NIGHT PARTY
Sunday, Aug. 27, 8:30 p.m.
Firefighters Union Hall, 748 Mass Ave
Festival awards and wrap-up party
CENTRAL TICKETING AND INFORMATION
Located at the Firefighters Union Hall, 748 Mass Ave
Through -Sunday, Aug. 27
Information booth staff will provide programs, updates on shows and ticket availability
Tickets for all shows can be purchased at Central Box Office – right next to Information Booth
$1 fee on all tickets purchased at central ticketing and individual theatre box offices
Three-minute walk will take you to any theatre
OTHER WAYS TO BUY TICKETS FOR FRINGE EVENTS
Online: indyfringe.org, 24 hours a day and up to 60 minutes before a show
By phone: Call 317-308-9800, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
In person: (from July 31-Aug. 14) weekdays, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
IndyFringe box office: 719 E St. Clair Street
Individual theatre box offices during festival
Ticket fee information:
Tickets purchased online are subject to $1 fee per ticket
Tickets at Central Box Office and theatres subject to $1 fee per ticket
Tickets purchased in person using credit/debit card are subject to $1 fee per ticket