By Marcina Zaccaria
Elizabeth Van Meter takes to the stage for Thao’s Library, a one person show playing at The Lion Theater.
Elizabeth Van Meter’s play, Thao’s Library, covers much ground. In a country ravaged by agent orange, disabilities are plenty. Thao is in a wheelchair. Raised in a beautiful, strong home with a father who works two jobs, Thao has books in a small library.
Elizabeth Van Meter has a sense of duty only slightly different than that of a Peace Corps volunteer. She is upset, not knowing how to fulfill the possibility of building a better library for Thao. The cosmopolitan world filled with taxi cabs is quite different than the quiet beaches and gardens of Vietnam. In Vietnam, Elizabeth Van Meter prays until she knows the path to follow.
All the while, she thinks of Vicki Van Meter. Like a young Amelia Earhart, Vicki Van Meter wished to travel the world in a plane. Appearing on the Jay Leno show and meeting with Al Gore, her journey was extraordinary. Eventually committing suicide, she created a feeling of despair in those who supported her. Elizabeth Van Meter is driven to discover what Vicki was setting out to do. It’s more than overcoming a fear. She must understand the past. A trying journey, it’s really fit for an actor on the New York stage.
A tall woman with red hair, in jeans and a purple shirt, Elizabeth Van Meter has strength, poise, and complete understanding on her side. Theater provides such a different forum than film. Comfortable on stage, Elizabeth Van Meter believes in distilling the facts, and remembering the emotion in the struggle.
What the entire team seems to be seeking is the possibility of recording daily life, and making it just a little bit better. Awareness and understanding are included in the text. With every new phrase, Elizabeth Van Meter explains why there is so much more to do. She is involved with The Purpose Project, “an organization dedicated to searching out effective, dynamic individuals here and abroad that are bringing forth positive change in their communities.”
Elizabeth Van Meter’s documentary film, Thao’s Library, premiered at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. The filmmakers, also inspired by the visual landscape of Vietnam, include dissolves and fades of greens and yellows. Although much of it is a travel journey, it is subtle, and has an intelligible plainness. The film is interspersed with documentary footage.
All For One Theater brings solo artists to the forefront. Though Elizabeth Van Meter is the only person on stage, this multi-media play provided the opportunity for Elizabeth Van Meter to work with an empowering team. Credited in the Documentary Film Team is Photographer Stephen M. Katz. Filming was by Stephen M. Katz, Elizabeth Van Meter, Chris Tyree, and Kyle McKeveny. Editing was by Greg Slagle (stage version only), Elizabeth Van Meter, and Leandro Badalotti.
Thao’s Library is playing until May 7 at the All for One Festival at The Lion Theater, located at 410 West 42 Street on Theatre Row.