Posted by Danny Coleman on ConcertBlogger.com
“Beneath My Father’s Sky,” is a one woman play written and performed by Montclair, NJ resident, musician, actress and model Zara Phillips.
“Bet you didn’t know I could act,” she said with a laugh as she discussed her most recent performance. “I love it! I absolutely am enjoying it; this is so much fun!”
Phillips, an adoptee and a very intense supporter of adoptee’s rights, was born in Great Britain and raised in a suburb of London called Barnet by her adoptive parents; the Samuels. “Beneath My Father’s Sky” depicts Zara’s journey from childhood to her mother’s passing, her seemingly at times forced relationship with her father and incorporates interactions with her deceased sister who never came to be as her mother miscarried. Phillips weaves a tale of conflict, curiosity, longing and searching for her birth parents while balancing family life with her adoptive parents.
“My song “Big Sky” was the inspiration for the whole play,” she explained. “We all live under the same sky yet we don’t know each other.” Phillips, a musician by trade, began her musical career as a backing vocalist for British artist Bob Geldof. Literally touring the globe, making television appearances and performing for stadiums full of fans; Zara gained the experience and confidence that would carry her through to her current career as an actress and model. In the play, Phillips incorporates her music in short snippets while having at length discussions with her deceased sister, mother, grandmother and still living adopted father. Zara deftly maneuvers her way through this one act short story in a manner that grabs the audiences attention while leaving one wanting to know more. Zara teases and takes you to the brink of wonder in several spots; one in particular is the short interaction and introduction of her grandmother. Phillips allows a glimpse, as she does throughout the play, into her childhood relationships with her adoptive parents; offering veiled explanations for her make up outside of the DNA which belongs to another set of parents.
“November is “National Adoption Month;” people need to know this. Do you know what someone said to me today? Someone actually said, “Be glad that you weren’t an abortion,” can you believe that? It’s not the first time that has happened to me either,” she said with mild agitation in her voice. “People just don’t understand what it’s like. As an adoptee it’s not easy. Filling out forms at the doctor is a challenge, I have children and I can’t determine my birth father’s medical history as I’ve never met him and my birth mother doesn’t know. Will that effect my children? I just don’t know but…” and as her voice trailed off; the sense of her frustration and sadness was evident.
Zara is a huge advocate for adoptees rights and travels the country, speaking at conferences and raising awareness; something that was her main focus when she wrote the play. “I wrote the entire play during the two weeks that we were without power during and after Hurricane Sandy. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I’d often thought of doing it so I sat down and was able to accomplish it during those two weeks. I wanted to get the message out there while incorporating my music.”
Zara sought the help of her friends Eliza and Eric Roberts. Eliza produced the play which debuted in November of 2013 at the United Solo Theater Festival in New York City while Eric garnered the festival’s “Best Director Award” for his efforts. “Eric and Eliza were just terrific with their help and support last year; I was so happy that they were recognized,” she said. Since that 2013 premier, Phillips was invited to perform the play in San Francisco and Los Angeles and back at the United Solo Festival again this year; where her November 23 2 p.m. performance will close the event.
“This has exceeded my expectations,” she proudly stated as the excitement in her voice grew. “This has been such a positive experience, a growing experience for me. Last year I was so nervous, this year I’m learning more and more and I am less nervous. I was concerned that the audiences wouldn’t get my bizarre British humor but they seem to be laughing in the right spots and nodding approval in others so I guess it’s working.”