Getting in Touch With Your Inner Cheeseball
Campus Production of ‘The Book of Liz’ Makes a Comical Case for Individuality
Oct. 1, 2009
The upcoming production of the Sedaris siblings’ satire The Book of Liz might be quite literally the cheesiest play ever performed at The University of Texas at Dallas.
The story hinges on the secret ingredient found in Sister Elizabeth (“Liz”) Donderstock’s cheeseballs, a recipe she’s been making in her Squeamish (think Amish) community since she was 12.
“The cheeseballs remind me of the Earth on which we live,” said Assistant Director of Theatre Kathy Lingo, who is also directing this play. “Sometimes it’s cheesy and sharp and bitter, and sometimes it’s soft and melts in your mouth. Everybody makes their own little cheeseball and their own little world.”
In Lingo’s view, The Book of Liz allows us to see ourselves through it. “In our daily lives, we often don’t feel appreciated,” said Lingo. “Or we feel as though there’s nothing that we do that’s special. What will you do for this, or how long can you go without this? Liz has the same problem.”
Ultimately, Liz comes to the realization that, if she keeps trying to change herself to please other people, it will never be enough. “Only when she realizes that she is happy with herself does she allow other people to begin to recognize her for her talents,” said Lingo. “They have to give her that recognition because only she can make the cheeseballs.”
Lauren Hollis, who plays Liz, feels a deep connection to her character. “I’m in love with Liz right now,” said Hollis. “I’ve realized that I have a different voice for Liz. In conversation, I’ll slide into it. I’ll say something and realize that it’s not me. It’s something my character would say. It’s almost like you’re being possessed.”
Perhaps the most important connection, however, is the one between the cast and the audience. “The audience is the reason we’re here,” said Lingo. “Without an audience, we have no purpose. We feed off their energy. If they give us an inch, we’ll give them a yard. We love them. They have no idea the gratitude we have for them.”
Hollis agrees, and is quick to add that the show gives the audience something back. “This is an accessible show,” she said. “There’s such a range of characters that you can really see yourself. To see something on stage and to see it come through people, it’s really powerful.”
The show runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. through 10 at the University Theatre. It is free to UT Dallas Students with UT Dallas Photo ID at the venue box office the night of the event. Thursday nights are free to everyone and do not require tickets. Discounts are available to faculty, staff, alumni, retirees and students. Please review the ticket policy or call the box office at 972-883-2552 for details.