Monday, December 29, 2008

Valerie Harper is Looped

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Valerie Harper is currently playing the great Tallulah Bankhead in "Looped" in West Palm Beach.

The new play, by Matthew Lombardo, is taken from a recording of a looping session Ms. Bankhead did for the movie "Die! Die! My Darling!" It was her last film.

The looping session should have been less than 15 minutes. Instead, it wound up being eight hours.

The process is called "looping" because film was spliced together in "loops" so that section of the movie could play over and over again.

Ms. Harper warns that the show uses extremely coarse language.

In the session that inspired the show, Ms. Bankhead struggled just to put together a coherent thought. The writer says she was clearly high on some sort of substance.

Harper found the recordings to be a "treasure trove" of material.

She also says that she works not to do an impersonation of the real-life characters (such as Bankhead or Golda Meir, whom she has also played), but to find their tone of voice and inflection.

She strives to create a real person.

That said, the hardest part of the play for Ms. Harper was re-creating Bankhead's voice, which is considerably lower than her own.

Now I can't wait until I'm in my 60s and able to play this part!

Gina Wilhelm Actress

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