Del Shores is best known as a writer, the creator of LGBT cult favorites “Sordid Lives” and “Southern Baptist Sissies.” But now, he’s also taking his turn on stage in a new show, “Six Characters in Search of a Play,” opening at Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage this weekend.
“The hardest thing about this show—having turned 60 last year—was memorizing my own material!” Shores said in a phone interview.
“Six Characters in Search of a Play” is a riff of sorts on Pirandello’s classic title, Shores explained, a one-man show that brings to life six one-of-a-kind characters he has met in real life, but haven’t already quite made it into one of his plays, films or TV shows.
It was his friend Ann Walker, the actress who created the role of LaVonda for the “Sordid Lives” movie and series, who suggested he assemble the quirky characters into a show.
“You’ve got to put them into something,” she urged him while the duo toured with Shores’ latest work, “A Very Sordid Wedding” with director Emerson Collins.
In 90 minutes, the audience will learn the truth about these eccentrics as he portrays his hilarious, off-the-rails encounters with each.
The audience will meet “Yvonne,” the anti-vegetarian Dallas waitress; “Sarah,” a Trump-hating elderly actress with an inhaler in one hand and a cigarette in the other; “Jimmy Ray,” the evolving, Magic Mike-loving latent Georgia redneck; “Loraine,” the once-brilliant drama teacher who has lost her damn mind and is now obsessed with porn; “Marsha,” the monkey-hating lesbian with COPD; and “Aunt Bobby Sue,” the racist Republican with a heart of gold.
One character, Loraine, is particularly close to Shores. That crazy woman was modeled after his own mother, a brilliant drama teacher who also suffered from mental illness and descended into opioid addiction.
While there are plenty of laughs to be had, he also tapped into the kinds of personal emotional experiences that made Ty one of the most popular characters in his “Sordid Lives” works.
“I draw from the same well. I write what I know [and] I know what my fans like,” Shores admitted. “When I tell my stories, they’re sometimes people who are left behind, the waitress or the beautician in that small Texas town. I’ve been told over and over again, I know that person, that’s my mom, that’s my aunt.”
With more than 50 performances under his belt, he’s becoming more comfortable with that whole “acting thing.”
“It’s been a crazy busy year, but I’ve loved it. I started as an actor and this show really took me back full circle,” he said. “I was known as a writer and director and now I’ll be judged as a performer. L.A. was very daunting for me, being reviewed by the same people who gave me great reviews for my writing.”
Shores is looking forward to his stage debut in Fort Lauderdale: “I love Fort Lauderdale. I was so excited when Empire Stage reached out to me…the shows are selling well and I want to thank everyone for supporting my sordid career.”
“Six Characters in Search of a Play” written by and starring Del Shores will be performed Dec. 6 – 16 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $35 at DelShores.com.