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Posted July 23, 2019 by Jeff in Art
 
 

2 The Left

2 The Left photo by Ali Shaw Ki Taon
2 The Left photo by Ali Shaw Ki Taon

Three years ago, Tom Jones directed the first staged reading of Kerisse Hutchinson’s 2 The Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in Atlanta for a private audience. Since then, Hutchinson has taken the show to a variety of festivals. It’s part of the BorderLight Festival taking place July 24-27 in Cleveland and will come to the Synchronicity Theatre in Midtown Atlanta for a limited engagement August 1-11. Hutchinson phoned from her Atlanta home to talk about the show.

What inspired you to develop this show?

People randomly said I look like Left Eye. One of my acting teachers said I should consider doing a project about her and portray her. There was a moment when I realized it wasn’t even a choice. I was at South by Southwest when they premiered her documentary and realized I needed to start working on it.

What was the development process like?

I started doing research in 2009. I did two years of research. I knew about her music, but I didn’t know about her other than she burned down a house. I learned she has so many layers. I started writing it and then reached out to her family in 2013 to let them know that I was doing something about their family member. Since then, they’ve been fully on board. One thing her brother said when I first spoke to him on the phone but was that if I really needed to know his sister I needed to visit Honduras. I was already considering that. He goes there a couple of times a year. He said that was when he started taking me seriously. 

Lisa began playing music at an early age. Do you have a sense of her abilities in those very early days?

Oh my gosh. She played piano without ever being taught. Her whole family is very artistic. Her dad played a bunch of instruments and her mother made things out of wood. When she was young, she was very creative. She just kept expanding her artistry.

TLC’s first album was a hit right out of the gates. Why do think it and the follow-up album, CrazySexyCool, connected so strongly with fans?

I think it’s just that they didn’t do things by the book. I feel like they all could have had solo projects. Hip-hop and pop fusion I think started with them. They were very real. They weren’t glammed up, but they were all beautiful in three different ways. Women connected to them because they wanted to be like them and because they didn’t have to show off their boobs. Men connected to them. They were before their time. Lisa wrote eight songs on that first album and helped develop their image. 

How do you depict her relationship with Atlanta Falcon Andre Rison? 

I go all in. I think they loved hard and fought hard. There was nothing but drama and love. Were they good for each other? No. But they had a lot of things in common. She had a good relationship with Tupac, which I touch on, who was her spiritual partner. 

Her death was so tragic. How do you handle it in your show?

That is the main crux of the show. She just turned 30 and has these premonitions. She knows that something is going to happen, and she’s trying to figure out what her legacy will be. That’s where her spiritual journey begins. She’s trying to figure out why she’s here. She knew she was going to die; whatever people think of that. She was surrounded by death a lot. I take the audience through that. 

How difficult is to do all the dancing and singing and acting?

It’s a lot. It’s been challenging for me to step into her shoes for an hour and a half. My director likes to say, “Well, you wrote it.” I’m an actor, but the show also has dancing and rapping. I’m going to rehearsal now. It’s exhausting, but I can’t hold back when I do it. For a one-person show, that’s the one thing everyone says—you have to make sure you’re fit. And that’s for shows that don’t even involve singing and dancing. But it’s been such a fulfilling journey. I can now call her family friends and they invite me to the birthday parties. It’s been such a rewarding experience. I never knew it would take me on this journey when I started writing the show all those years ago. 

Photo by Ali Shaw Ki Taon


Jeff

 
Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.