RR LogoAnais An Erotic Evening With Anais Nin Headline

Anais Photo of Sonia M“What you owe an audience, is to make them feel something, I would never be arrogant enough to say what the audience should feel, just that you should give them the opportunity to feel something,” and that says playwright and director Michael Phillips is what he, producer Larry Minion and actress Sonia Maslovskaya accomplished with the one person play Anais: An Erotic Evening With Anais Nin, which debuted at the Sherry Theatre in Los Angeles on in September 0f 2010.

Sonia Maslovskaya, who portrays the celebrated French author Anais Nin, well known for her published erotic journals and letters, shared her thoughts about opening night, “I know Anais more intimately than a fan admiring a celebrity. I thought, ‘I am going to go up there and let my Anais live, feel and love. I only have one hour.’ I stepped on the stage, sensed the electricity and the excitement, and it just happened. My Anais was born.”

The play focuses on a fictional weekend encounter between June Miller, the wife of American author Henry Miller, with whom Anais Nin had an affair, and Anais Nin in Arizona, during the summer of 1954, a meeting which as far as we know, never took place.  Ms. Maslovskaya confesses to writing letters to several of the people (all passed long ago) in Anais Nin’s life, as part of her preparation for her role. In depicting the fifty-one year old Nin, Ms. Maslovskaya has conversations with three different characters during the play, people who are not physically on stage, and instead are evoked from the audience’s imagination and through the cunning pen of playwright Michael Phillips and the acting of Sonia Maslovskaya. The play, according to Ms. Maslovskaya is written in a surrealistic fashion and it may unconsciously mirror Henry Miller’s own book Tropic of Cancer, that was first published in Paris in 1934 and which was sponsored by Anais Nin.

Playwright and director Michael Phillips says, “Let’s put it this way, it may or may not have happened, but it should have happened. I have felt after all of my reading and research that Anais never had a chance to talk to June about what happened. It was like a huge, empty, hanging thing in her life. It was the elephant in the room if you will and the feelings that were brought up, were intense, strong and fundamentally life changing.”

“What Michael did was to come up with a very clever idea of what the weekend might have been about. It was about Anais visiting June and about June wanting a very special favor from her. Using the diaries and such, Michael has created this imaginary weekend visit, so it is not really a show about the erotic writings. That still gets talked about, but this is a very interesting story of what happened that weekend,” says producer Larry Minion, who has gained a reputation for his cutting edge productions.

Contrary to what the title of the play may lead some theatergoers to think, the play does not have any nudity and the erotica arises from the journals and letters of Anais Nin. Larry Minion also echoes those thoughts, telling us that this is not about creating some kind of pornographic adventure and it is instead about exploring the depths of a woman who had much more to offer the world and an individual whose life breathed sensuality and erotica. 

“You don’t think of it as dirty, ever, it is artful and poetic. It is definitely not pornographic. Some people think that anything that has to do with sex is dirty and it is pornographic. For me, erotica is very artful and she was a master of that. She portrayed erotica in a way that only an artist can portray it. She really plays with the readers’ imaginations by all means, it is not dirty. It is innocent and curious,” says Sonia Maslovskaya.

Although, there is no nudity in Anais: An Erotic Evening With Anais Nin Ms. Maslovskaya spends a lot of time naked on stage. She explains, “I call it emotional nudity. Yes there are a lot of naughty parts and there are a lot of erotic descriptions in this play, but I find emotional nudity to be more challenging in having to reveal the fears, insecurities and the pain. I think that is much more challenging than talking about intimate, sexual things. Anytime that I have to go up on stage, I am moved by the performance if the actor, himself or herself is moved by the performance and if they are able to open up emotionally and they are not afraid to show primal feelings, the insecurities, fears that we have to fight in our everyday lives, failures in love or in achievement. These are all things that we do not want to talk about in everyday life, but that is why people come to theater for some honesty. That emotional honesty or that emotional nudity, is what I have been working on in my portrayal of Anais Nin. The association that a lot of people have when you first mention the name Anais Nin is erotica, but they don’t know what is underneath it. What was propelling her to be so sensual and erotic? The depths of her relationships with Henry Miller and with June Miller, a lot of people do not have that understanding and all that they see is the erotica, the sexuality and the sensuality that is lying on the surface. It is my job in advocating for Anais Nin and being her voice (as she goes) through her pain and her struggles, her losses and her heartbreaks. That is what I have been working on.” 

“Many people have heard of Anais Nin and yet there has been so little about her other than Henry and June (the film). A couple of little things have been done, but generally, this has been the first full production that has been done of such a fascinating character. Her life was so full; she was a dancer and an actor, just everything about her,” says Mr. Minion.

Michael Phillips says of Anais Nin, “There is innocence to her activity. If there is any place where her innocence is a little bit cracked, it is in her relationship with her husband Hugo  Hugo (Guiler).  There is a deep sense of shame around Hugo. Other than that and if we disregard that, I think (she is innocent and curious). Her sexuality is more sensuality and it is not about perversion. It is about experience, if that makes any sense.” Read more

Photo: Sonia Maslovskaya, photo by Dania Patrick, protected by copyright, all rights reserved