In an exclusive interview with Commyounicate, Michelle Drozdick talks about how writing and producing her popular play, ‘Message in a Bottle,’ was her way of creating a positive message from adversity.
Message in a Bottle is a ‘dark comedy’ play about alcohol addiction and where it leads. It was written and produced by Michelle Drozdick, who performs this play as a one-person show with the help of director Adrian Sexton — and it is a truly incredible production.
Audience members have said the following online with regard to her performance:
This show is great! Very well written and so raw. It’s got some really funny and genuine moments and I did cry while watching it. I learned a lot about the writer, Michelle Drozdick, and appreciate that she was able to put herself out there in such a raw and emotional show. See Message in a Bottle! – Marlee R.
“Many cheers and great respect for Michelle who survives this dance and thrives with the courage and talent to enthrall us in her sharing. Go experience this.” – Hank F.
“This show made me laugh, made me cry and everything else in between. An amazing performance by an amazing person. I saw it twice and it was even better the second time.” – Ross B
What a story! The highlights (and low-lights) of Ms. Drozdick’s life story will literally make you laugh and make you cry. 100% Respect for her being on her own on stage, putting herself out there and creating such a great show. Go see it ASAP! – Steve T.
“Most of us don’t have the courage to talk about the low points of our lives. Michelle Drozdick not only talks about it, she laughs about too. A genuinely moving and hilarious dramatization of one woman’s addiction to the bottle and how she had to say goodbye to her past and embrace her future. The show will make you feel all the things, but most of all, it will give you hope. Check it out.” – Steven S.
“See this Show! Michelle Drozdick puts on a stellar performance as she dives into a story of her fall into and rise from the perils of addiction. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be angry at a sentient bottle called Tito. Its all here.” – Arvandus A
And the list goes on and on.
The play is meant to show the extremes of what alcohol addiction, at its core, is — a relationship with a controlling substance. How does Michelle Drozdick display this? By illustrating what it would be like to be in a dating relationship with a bottle of Vodka.
In the interview below, Michelle Drozdick explains how Message in a Bottle is a story born out of adversity that she overcame.
Here’s what she had to say:
Commyounicate interviewer – Ryan Mekkes: So first of all, incredible job with the play! You’re a very gifted actor! I understand you wrote and produced “Message in a Bottle.” Could you tell me a little bit about what inspired you to write this play?
Michelle Drozdick: Thank you so much, that is extremely kind of you! Yes, I did write and produce “Message in a Bottle,” with help of my wonderful director, Adrian Sexton. I wanted for some time to write a show about my personal battle with alcoholism, and decided it was now or never. What held me back for a while was finding just the right angle. I wanted to find a unique way of telling my story, which ended up taking form as the surreal but based-in-reality tale of a woman meeting and falling in love with an actual bottle of vodka (with googly eyes, plastic fork arms, and a necktie) named Tito, and slowly realizing she’s in a toxic relationship. One of my major goals was to have the show be equally comedic and equally dramatic, without sacrificing one for the other.
Ryan Mekkes: So it’s being received very well. How has it been for you seeing such a positive media and audience reaction?
Michelle Drozdick: I’m so honored and honestly so shocked by the attention the show is getting! I launched it late last year and never dreamed things would go this well. I consider myself very, very lucky and am so grateful to everyone who’s made it possible.
Ryan Mekkes: Were you nervous at first with the prospect of doing a one-person play?
Michelle Drozdick: I was terrified! By the time the show launched, I’d been doing a monthly improvised solo show (the plot being based off an interview with a guest) for a year and a half, but I’d never attempted a fully scripted one. Improvised solo shows are scary in their own right, but there was a freedom there in that I could just show up and make up something silly and then never think about it again. With “Message in a Bottle,” there was much more preparation and work that needed to be done; plus, it was about a much more personal, serious matter.
In the month leading up to the show, there were many times I was tempted to call the whole thing off. I’m stubborn, though, and I’m very glad I didn’t back out. I’m still nervous before every performance and probably always will be, but I love doing it, and it’s a very small sacrifice. Besides, if I wasn’t nervous, I’d probably be nervous about why I wasn’t nervous!
Ryan Mekkes: What were some of the biggest challenges in the writing phase for putting Message in a Bottle together?
Michelle Drozdick: Finding that balance between comedy and drama was hard. It’s a dark show, and there are points where it’s pretty bleak and true to events that were very painful to live through. That being said, it’s also a show about a woman deeply in love with a self-aware bottle of booze with googly eyes and a necktie, and the silliness and absurdity of that situation is absolutely played up. I definitely struggled at first to find how to really combine the comedic elements with the darker ones, but Adrian helped a great deal in finding that balance. I’m happy with how it turned out and think it successfully manages to be a dark comedy while still maintaining a very real gravitas throughout.
It was also tough revisiting some very difficult moments from my past. I haven’t had a drink since 2016 and never will again, but I had to dig deep into things I had tried not to think about to write this show. I’m glad I did, though. It was therapeutic to finally truly address it, and also empowering to be able to look back at something extremely painful, dress it up in googly eyes, and laugh at it.
Ryan Mekkes: And what would you consider to have been your biggest challenge during the production phase?
Michelle Drozdick: One big challenge was figuring out how the show would work at different venues. I’ve put up this show at so many different places, from theaters to galleries and, naturally, every one has a different stage and tech layout. There have been times we’ve had to cut or get creative with musical cues or projected photos, or figure out how the blocking will work on a stage surrounded by seats on three sides as opposed to just one. I enjoy this a lot, though, because every time something is adjusted slightly, the vibe changes as well. There have been times I’ve made permanent changes to the show because it turns out the adjustments worked better than what I was currently doing, and I never would have realized it otherwise.
Ryan Mekkes: What are some of the key things that you and your director wanted to communicate through this play?
Michelle Drozdick: I wanted to convey to people that they aren’t alone, no matter where they are in their journey. Even if you don’t have a drinking problem, we’ve all experienced someone or something toxic in our lives. We all know a Tito. It’s a show about finding your inner strength and making the choice to do what’s right for you, even if it isn’t easy. It’s a show about alcoholism, but it’s also a show about finding who you are and facing your life instead of running from it. If it helps even a single person, I’ll feel like it succeeded.
Ryan Mekkes: In doing this, you’re exposing alcoholism for what it is, but this play delivers that message in such a way that people can actually see that, and possibly, receive the message. It’s really incredible. What kind of feedback are you getting from people who watch the show?
Michelle Drozdick: The feedback has really been amazing– so many people have reached out to me after seeing the show with their own stories, and I’m really honored to have been trusted in that way. I’m a very lucky person.
Ryan Mekkes: Where can people find tickets to upcoming showtimes?
Michelle Drozdick: I have one run of shows left for 2019, at a wonderful venue in Astoria, Queens called QED! (Tickets and info can be found here.) Just for clarification, it’s listed as running from 7-8:30, but the show itself is only about 40 minutes. If anyone wants to stick around afterward, though, I might set up a stool with a microphone and set Tito on it. He keeps saying he wants to try stand-up.
Check out Message in a Bottle in Astoria, Queens at QED. Show info here. Be sure to keep up with all the latest from Michelle Drozdick.