“A Rose Called Candace”: Smiling Through the Trauma

Lead Article, Reviews

By Donasia Sykes
 
“My name is Candace Nicholas‑Lippman. Born in Baltimore, raised in Sacramento. I love Jesus, spoken word, acting. Always 45 minutes early for everything,” Candace starts her play. People who meet her notice that, despite her smile and cheery personality, she seems guarded. They don’t really know her on a deeper level. This solo performance is her way of opening up to the world, something that many trauma victims aren’t prepared to do.
 
Candace grew up as the oldest of six kids, all but two with different fathers. At a young age, she looked up to her mom, a strict and abusive parent whose mental health was slowly declining. She also lived with her grandmother, since her grandfather went away a lot for work, and his relationship to the family was mainly financial. Due to her mom’s mental health and abuse, Candace practically raised her siblings.
 
Like every child raised by a single mother, she asked about her father. Her mom described him as a skinny guy, like Snoop Dogg. As Candace grew up, she felt a stronger need to know more about her father, which annoyed her mother. Although she tried to connect the clues that she was given throughout her life, she never learned who her father was, something that she had to make peace with over time.
 
Although her home life wasn’t the brightest, she remained cheerful. Her escape was watching TV, which fed into her dream of becoming an actor. She went to college in Los Angeles, where she found Christianity. She tried to share it with her family, but her mother was uninterested.
 
After college, she struggled to find work, since she did not look like the “typical” actress. At home, her mom’s mental health deteriorated, which stressed Candace since she felt responsible for her family, and didn’t have enough money to support herself and them. The performance ends with a spoken word piece, in which she discusses the trauma of her family, and the community she grew up with. She is the rose growing through the trauma. No matter how much was thrown at her, she remains her happy and cheerful self, teaching others how to use whatever was thrown at them to create.
 
“A Rose Called Candace” is a look at people who experience and survive trauma. Ms. Nicholas‑Lippman exposes her vulnerabilities to the world, to show that no matter what happens in your life, as long as you open up to others, you can get through anything with a smile on your face.

 
A Rose Called Candace
Written and Performed by Candace Nicholas-Lippman
October 23 at 7:30 PM
Photo: courtesy of the production
2019 United Solo Theater Festival
Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
 
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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.
 

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