“Gate 64”: Improv at the Airport
Winnie, played by Jane Watt, is a vagrant performer who lost her comedy partner and girlfriend, Leslie, and performs around a gate at the airport. Living on the street hasn’t killed her acting bug; she carries around a bundle of wigs and costumes to impersonate various characters. She eventually reveals that when Leslie died, Leslie’s parents, who didn’t approve of their relationship, took half of their comedy props and profits they made, leaving Winnie brokenhearted. She copes by disappearing into characters that reveal aspects of her pain. One such character is Gloria, a Latina woman. Throughout her life, her mother controlled her appearance, making sure that Gloria is attractive to men and competition to other women. When Gloria came home upset that a friend made fun of her body, her mother told her that her friend was jealous that boys were looking at Gloria and not at her. She spots two little girls: one who resembles a mini‑Gloria, and another who is carefree. While the carefree girl inspires her to let go, she becomes protective of mini‑Gloria and hopes that she won’t have to grow up too fast. Another character is a young girl who helped her family aggressively kill mice. In a story she tells to her class, she describes the mice’s bloody bodies, to her teacher’s and classmates’ disgust. Like many of her characters, Winnie is broken by her life circumstances. She had been ignored and bullied, and seeks solace by giving voice to people whom others ignore. The audience serves as the passengers waiting for their flight at Gate 64. Winnie enlists an audience member named Adam to serve as her comedy partner. She interacts with Adam often, finally calling him a terrible actor who wouldn’t make it in Hollywood—possibly something that she herself had heard over and over. “Gate 64” is a good performance that left me wanting more backstory and context for Winnie. How did she and Leslie meet? How successful were they? Does Winnie bounce from airport to airport? Or does she have some unique connection to that specific airport? More details and insight into Winnie’s personal history and relationships would be welcome, so we could better understand her eccentric behavior. “Gate 64” Performed by Jane Watt Nov. 11 at 6pm Photo: courtesy of the production United Solo 2018 Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
DONASIA SYKES is a freelance writer currently based out of Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a BA in English and Textual Studies with a concentration in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, where she saw and performed in various small stage shows.