Rascal Roll Call – Lelia

Name: Lelia Johnson

From: Woodland, California

Lives: San Francisco, CA

Go-To Cycling Snack: Bar food, it’s easy to eat with one hand.

Cyclist Rating: Cycling is my main mode of transportation

How did you hear about Agile Rascal and what made you want to do it?

I received one line email from a friend in November 2014. It said, “You may be interested in this….agilerascaltheatre.com.” That one email changed the trajectory of my life. I was indeed interested, why? I am an adventure junkie. The timing in my life was right and I was looking for an interesting project to pursue. The project combined two areas of my life that were growing: theatre and cycling. This made it irresistible. After the first adventure, I continue to do it because it makes people excited and I hope it makes more people pursue their dreams.

What is bicycle touring theatre to you?

It’s connecting people, places and stories and reconnecting to people, places, and stories.

Please tell us an embarrassing cycling story.

During our last tour, on one of our city breaks, I went to the thrift store by myself. In an unfamiliar city I quickly doubted my navigation skills so I got out my phone to look at a map. I was going slow and the street was quiet and empty so I was not much concerned about looking up frequently. Suddenly I came to an abrupt halt and fell over. I thought a car had come out of nowhere. Then I realized I had run into a parked car.  I sheepishly put my phone in my pocket…

Tell us about your best free theatre experience.

I have not been to much free theatre. It hardly exists in the Bay Area. I have received free and discounted tickets but not usually free unless I am volunteering. So I’ll speak about one of my favorite shows more generally. It was a 3-person play in a small blackbox theatre. The audience and actors were so close we were exchanging the same molecules of air back and forth. The theme of friends, rape and difficult conversations made that air thick and stifling. The actors gripped us with their emotions, and never broke. Finally at the end they let us all come up for air. It was intense. And that is the power of theatre.

What about Montana intrigues you?

Montana is a place with old roots that show today. It is a place that is grappling between the old ways and new ways. The economy has relied on stripping it of its natural resources. Meanwhile the young folks embrace any economy that restores, sustains and celebrates its natural beauty. It’s an intriguing mystery on how the people and places will adapt and persevere through change. It’s one I hope to explore deeper while living there for the summer.

Why do you choose to do live theatre? Especially in a digital age.

When I’m performing I feel alive. And that transfers to the audience. It makes people remember they are alive and we are humans together. Theatre has a way of making people feel their emotions and bodies, in a way a movie can’t. Seeing a real human in front of you displaying emotions is palpable and visceral. With movies, you can push pause, you can switch the channel, or you can do something else entirely. Theatre has you gripped to your seat until the end. It is happening in the present moment and cannot be rewound. Mistakes can happen. Astonishment can happen. This is why I love it and create it, because it is life. Life can not be rewound, mistakes can happen and sometimes we are astonished by it all. Didn’t Shakespeare say, all of life is a stage? Indeed it is.

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