From the directors chair…Max Davine chats with Clare Pickering about “electro Girl”

In a tough industry, it’s hard to keep a gentle soul. Actors are trained to empathize and respond to emotional cues, so unfairly, they’re often the ones who turn cold and cruel the fastest when it comes to real life. Not so for Clare Pickering. Somehow, in a business run by cutthroats, buying and selling human souls, she remains warm, gentle and instantly connected. Her past credits include “One Grated Carrot at a Time” for Mad Women Monologues and “Ladonna Marie”, a short film. A disarmingly soft countenance shines through her ageless smile and puts a person immediately at ease. It’s a handy tool for an actor, it’s a golden ticket for a director, and it’s imperative for a director who has taken on the task that Pickering has just successfully seen the fruition of the first time; directing Lainie Chait’s one-woman show, “Electro Girl” – a powerful, intimate piece dealing with a lifetime of severe epilepsy.

She comes out of the first night’s show without any of the signs of stress or anxiety normally plaguing the director, or the bottle-in-hand of those they don’t. Just a natural calm without a hint of cockiness. We sit down, and I have her complete attention. She’s present one hundred per cent. Another extraordinary rarity in a world where everyone’s thinking about what happens next.

“I’m an actor, writer and director,” she says, glancing back across a CV branching through film, television and theatre. “I studied with Hayes Gordon, I studied a many, many schools…and Howard Fine.”

I get the impression that she doesn’t want to talk about herself. Yet another rarity, given that acting, writing and directing are a honey pot to the driven narcissist. One gets used to certain things…but Clare continues to sweetly surprise. It’s so refreshing, I’m only happy to oblige, having just witnessed the fascinating piece she has just given us.

“I met Lainie at Pilates, actually,” she smiles as the memory occurs to her. “She was doing stand-up. I’d read her book, and we started talking about a show to educate teenagers, that’s the biggest motivation. They’re the ones who tend to feel really alone with these conditions, so we’re both really interested in reaching out, and telling them this story. That’s the biggest motivation.”

Suddenly, the passion is showing. Others, those in need. That is where Clare Pickering’s heart lies.

“We worked together on the script, drawing from Lainie’s life,” she says, of the process. “Then, it had to be edited down to fit the standard. The puppet was Lainie’s idea. It added a second character.”

But Lainie is a stand-up and author, with no theatre experience. How is such an intimate performance evident in “Electro Girl”?

“It was an interesting challenge, but actually it turned out to be really good, because not being trained, Lainie wasn’t stuck to anything in particular. It made her really flexible, easy to work with and show the way to. She was very open to what I’m used to, which is refreshing.”

“Electro Girl” is showing at the Butterfly Club, and Clare and Lainie hope to take it on a national tour to raise awareness of Epilepsy with young people.

Written by Max Davine

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