BARBARA COLACIELLO KNOWS ALL THE ANGLES

A lot has changed in Barbara Colaciello’s life 
 since she first performed her one-woman 
 play Life on the Diagonal in 2005. She left her longstanding post as education and outreach director for Players by the Sea. She also separated from her husband and has been dealing with empty nest syndrome since her two 20something sons moved out.

So it makes sense that a play based on Colaciello’s life would need to undergo some edits. The latest version will be unveiled with two showings this week at The 5 & Dime Warehouse.

“I like to say that we grow accustomed to wearing these coats, and the coats can become a 
burden,” Colaciello says. “I’m a woman. I’m Catholic. I’m Italian. I’m a liberal. I think these coats hinder our humanity. It’s all an illusion. If 
you lose your favorite coat, you feel exposed. We’re so bound by these roles, and the play’s about that.”

Colaciello’s been working on Life on the Diagonal — in one form or another — for nearly 15 years. It started back in 1999 when Colaciello and her then-husband would host “soirées” at their house and invite fellow local creative types.

“I would get up and tell stories and snippets of my life that interested me and then ask for a response,” she says. “Stories need to be universal, and I found that mine were.”

Diagonal is a somewhat-chronological trip through Colaciello’s life. Starting with her Italian Catholic upbringing in Long Island (including years spent working with Andy Warhol at Interview Magazine), the play evolves through her time as a wife, mother and artist in Northeast Florida to this present-day “transitional period.”

Currently clocking in at 80 minutes sans intermission, it weaves monologues, original music (arranged by her ex, Mark Williams) and poetry, and is directed by Colaciello’s good friend Robert Arleigh White, who directed the 2008 version of Life on the Diagonal at its New York City debut at The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory.

Over the years, Colaciello has worked with many diverse personalities in the arts and theater world, including Tony-winning choreographer and film director Patricia Birch (Grease, Sleeping with the Enemy), with whom she went over the play line-by-line one weekend in the Hamptons.

“It was an amazing experience,” she says.

The play’s title comes from a spoken-word poem of the same name. In it, Colaciello writes:

You are the Verrazano bridge

And I’m on your causeway

Taking the journey to the top of that hill

You’ll come down from your mountain

dropping hats

And I’m watching from behind a pane of glass

You say goodbye to the one you know

And connect to me with a tube that you 
inject in my ribs

Colaciello’s a kind of Renaissance Woman. Her résumé is long and multifaceted: public speaker, educator, storyteller, musician, performance artist, director, acting coach, playwright — the list goes on and on.

“I look at the small moments you later see were big moments,” Colaciello says. “This play is all about how I remember those moments.”

From working as Warhol’s advertising director at Interview Magazine to hobnobbing with theater royalty like Birch, Colaciello’s life has plenty of colorful stories to choose from. Hence, the ever-changing transformation of Life on the Diagonal.

Colaciello is currently working on another one-woman play that she hopes to unveil in the fall of 2015. To Pop or Not to Pop is an exploration of the relationship we have with our own bodies and how we take care of ourselves — told, in typical Warholian fashion, in a bona fide pop-art style.

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