Christina Slyter speaks clearly and slowly, thoughtfully choosing each word. Sometimes she hesitates, backs up and begins a sentence over, like she wants to get each word perfectly right. And she does, because she’s explaining her solo show, No One Makes a Home in My Trailer, which she wrote and will perform for the next two weekends. It’s important to Slyter that people understand what they’re in for: a show that’s poignant and sometimes heavy, but also bizarre and often funny.
Slyter says the show is about a woman who has become a shut-in, terrified of the outside world, because her husband killed himself. He left a suicide note. In it he wrote that the reasons for which the two of them lived—caring about other people and making a difference in the world—were not unimportant, but impossible. “The show takes place on the night that she wakes up,” Slyter says, “and discovers that there are people in her house. She tries to be a good hostess to them and show them a good time, but inevitably she cannot hide her secrets.” The audience members are the visitors in her house, and as the woman gets closer to revealing truths, her hostess skills unravel.
The character’s name is Her, which lends her an Everyman quality. She could easily be a facet of Slyter’s or any audience member’s personality. The show, which Slyter previewed last year, is partially autobiographical. Several years ago, the brother of her high school friend drowned himself. Months after the fact, Slyter and the friend were sitting in a church and he handed her a piece of paper. It was his brother’s suicide note. “In my mind it’s the suicide note that I’ve re-created in the show,” Slyter says. “That weirdly just couldn’t get out of my head for years. I just kept thinking about him.”
She wanted to write about her friend’s brother. She also wanted to investigate what happens to a woman when she lets her life get mixed up with someone’s and is then abandoned. “This version of the show is more about Christina and less about Christina,” she says, “because now I am being much more honest about exactly what it is that is painful about losing somebody that you’ve entrusted your life’s meaning to.” At the same time, Slyter has developed Her into more of a character, with a background and an interior life different from Slyter’s.
“She tries to be a good hostess to them and show them a good time, but inevitably she cannot hide her secrets.”
The first run of No One Makes a Home in My Trailer had a mix of quirky humor and sadness, like Slyter says this version will. To her, the balance is just as important this time around. “Because ultimately, I don’t want pity,” she says. “I don’t want someone to come out feeling depressed or feeling weighed down. I simply want them to maybe leave feeling uplifted.”
She calls the show a dark comedy. “But I’ve had a lot of people tell me that it’s kind of a clown show.” This is not the red-nose kind of clown, she says, but a combination of genuine foolishness, openness and honest sadness of the character.
Slyter hopes that people, especially women, will come to the show and feel inspired to write about something they’ve been wanting to express. “I’d love for women to come see this and feel empowered.”