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Actress turns playwright



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James Bailey and Wendy Hedstrom rehearse a scene in Clarkston Village Players' "Downward Dog." Photo submitted (click for larger version)
June 02, 2010 - Clarkston Village Players is ready to set the stage with "Downward Dog," a play written by one of CVP's own, Wendy Hedstrom.

"Last year we were looking for a special production for CVP," said Hedstrom, whose been with CVP for six years. "I offered this up and they took me up on it."

"Downward Dog" is a romantic comedy about a high-strung pastry chef's frustration with her marriage, leads her to try yoga to relieve the tension, but winds up craving excitement in the form of adrenaline-junkie who bursts into her class one day.

Hedstrom originally wrote the play as a one act play for a writing class she took at Oakland University while majoring in French.

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Without any idea, Hedstrom sat in the student union with her laptop and a notebook. When she opened her laptop she saw a picture on Yahoo news of a stockbroker stressed out because it was the day the stock market crashed in September 2008.

"To channel my anxiety I made one of the characters a stockbroker. There wasn't anywhere to go with that, so he's working as a stockbroker, but he is actually an adrenaline junkie. He bungee jumps, hang glides, and skydives, hunt's sharks, things like that," she said. "It was originally a drama for about the first half of it and then I just didn't like it. I had the idea to make the yoga teach a lot more of a 'flower child' renamed her Willow and it just took off from there."

When Hedstrom found out CVP would perform the play, she gathered the whole cast together and wrote the second act to make it a full-length play. She also got Verne Vackaro to direct it.

"Verne is an amazing director," she said. "I trust him implicitly."

Along with Hedstrom, cast members include Dean Vanderkolk, Nancy Penvose, and James Bailey.

"This is the first play I've both written and acted in," she said.

Hedstrom noted she found out many playwrights are not actors, so as an actress she found a big advantage to knowing "what actors want and what they like doing."

As far as writing goes Hedstrom has done a lot including technical writing for a publishing company, a series of scripts for training videos for the Michigan Police, a short story that was acted out both by Flint City Theater and CVP. She even wrote an episode for the TV show MacGyver, which ended up getting plagiarized.

"I had producer on the phone I had all the contracts, but it got plagiarized anyway. I was just out of college, so I was too shy to try and sue them," she said. "They still run it on late night reruns."

Prior to getting her French degree at OU, Hedstrom graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in theater.

"I wanted to go out and make it my living, but I didn't have the nerve to do it. It was tough because I trained for it and wanted to do it so badly, she said. "I loss my confidence when I got in the big world."

Hedstrom said she feels inspired from "Downward Dog."

"It's really got me enthused about trying to write another play, maybe even going on for a Masters of Fine Arts in playwriting."

CVP is performing Downward Dog, June 4-5 at 8 p.m. for $13 and June 6 at 2 p.m. for $11.

For more information or to purchase tickets call 248-625-8811 or visit www.clarkstonvillageplayers.org.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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