My Wonderful Day

by Alan Ayckbourn
directed by Richard Hamburger
May 18, 2011June 19, 2011

Philadelphia Actor Yearns to Come Home

There was little doubt in Lavita Shaurice’s mind that she would eventually end up as an artist of some kind. The only question was what, where and how it would happen.

Today, the West Philadelphia native says it was an acting career that eventually fell into place for her, and that she owes much of her love of the theater to the Philadelphia School District and organizations like Philadelphia Young Playwrights, who piqued her interest in the dramatic arts early on.

That interest was further piqued at Temple University where she earned her Bachelor’s in theater. After graduating she began her career almost immediately when she played Ona Judge in InterAct Theatre’s “A House With No Walls.”

Currently, Shaurice takes the role of Winnie in “My Wonderful Day” at the Wilma Theater beginning tomorrow and running through June 19.

The play centers around Laverne, an Afro-Caribbean cleaning woman, who brings her young daughter Winnie to the house of her wealthy clients in London. Winnie is determined to complete her school assignment of chronicling her “wonderful day,” but quite unexpectedly finds herself witness to a tangled love affair. What ensues is a funny and bold dissection of a turbulent marriage.

“I play Winnie, a nine-year-old girl,” says Shaurice. “I can do that because I’m pretty petite, and people tell me I have a young face and, for better or worse, that I’m pretty child-like. Maybe that comes from being the youngest child in the family. I’m not sure, but whatever it is, I’m happy to be playing roles like this.”

In fact, she continues, there have been others. However, the youngest child she’s ever played up until now was a thirteen-year-old. But having worked with youngsters over the years, including babysitting to earn needed money when she’s not acting, helps her learn a lot about body movement and behavior of the younger set.

Shaurice’s recent work includes “A Home Across the Ocean” and “She Likes Girls” (2009 GLAAD Award), among others in New York where she now lives, although she says she’s anxious to one day return to Philly, her hometown where, she says, the theater world is flourishing.

Finally realizing that the theater was where her heart was, Shaurice says no matter what the obstacles she may face, this is what she knows and she’s sticking with it, even though it can be a very difficult profession to be in.

“The fact that I can pay my bills and I can eat and I can still go to rehearsal and have an amazing time there feeling as though I’m still learning something new everyday makes it all worthwhile for me,” she insists. “I feel as though I’m moving more and more toward my vision of just acting and not having to have a ‘day job’ or ‘survival gigs.’ Acting is what I want to do and nothing else.”

In the world of theater which can be very difficult for African-American actors, Shaurice admits she hasn’t found it too difficult for her yet. She says, “For me it’s a little different because I’m a certain type. I am a young Black woman who can often play much younger roles so I can do things maybe not available to older Black actresses.”

Admitting there have been many roles for her abilities, she says she’s surprised, but very happy and very lucky. “I guess I am pigeonholed in a way because of the way I look. And I may be for some time to come. But as long as it works out, and as long as I am working, pigeonhole away!”

For times and ticket information, call the Wilma box office at (215) 546-7824.