My show, “What’s His Name,” ran one night at Phantom Theater in July and is back by popular demand this week, August 25, at 8 p.m. This show follows last year’s “On the Road With an Oxymoron,” where I first introduced miniature versions of the Barbie dolls I played with as a child, having them act out a cross-country trip I made across the U.S. For this year’s show, prepared over the winter, I found myself once again obsessed with the Barbie theme, and continued using the characters that are projected onto a screen as I deliver the narrative. Part of my story is how I used Barbies to cope with childhood trauma.




The uncanniness of my Barbie saga coinciding with the new release of “Barbie,” is not lost on me, nor on friends and acquaintances who ask me about the timing of the film and my shows. My answer has to do with what I’ve sensed for decades -- that my subconscious rises up like an antenna during creation, and picks up important information from the collective conscious. In other words, it isn’t unusual for artists in various sections of the country to be working on similar material, though it is always a bit of a shock to read about those others existing in the same obsessive state as you. The shock is greater when it’s director Greta Gerwig with whom I am sharing this psychic space.

I underwent a creative spurt during the first year of the pandemic (2020), when I wrote six memoir pieces, two of which I use in “What’s His Name.” During that time, I went to eBay and purchased some of the Barbie dolls that became my first cast in the show I presented last year, “On the Road With an Oxymoron.” I spent an inordinate amount of time with the dolls as I began figuring out how to use them in my solo show. They were a weird comfort to me as an adult isolated by COVID.

As with any creative process, there were hits and misses, until slowly the story, and the way in which I would tell it, unfolded. I took photographs of my main characters, Growing Up Skipper, an outlier doll who grew breasts, and who had a short shelf life. Mod Ken was to become another main character.

If I can make any comparison to the film, both my production and the film are about awakening, though one has to move through the pink, buoyant layers in the film to discover that. I recall a line from Greta Gerwig when she was interviewed for Variety, “When I was a teenage girl, I remember growing up and being embarrassed about my body, and just feeling ashamed in a way I couldn’t even describe. It felt like everything had to be hidden.” She wanted girls today to relate to her Barbie, who addresses such issues with humor. I was also amused that her Barbie at the end is wearing Birkenstocks, which in my mind (probably invented) is a nod to our Vermont culture.

“What’s His Name” runs for one night, August 25, at Phantom Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be ordered online by going to, or by showing up at the door.