Two Remarkable Women, Two Remarkable Lives Intersect For One Remarkable Story

The infectious laugh of Thao was an inspiration for Elizabeth Van Meter and now for us.

The infectious laugh of Thao was an inspiration for Elizabeth Van Meter and now for us.

Mustard Seed Theatre opens their season with something very different. Artistic Director Deanna Jent has brought in a one person show that premiered last year at the All For One Theater Festival at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York. Using a combination of live performance, photographs and video projected on a huge screen at the back of the stage, Elizabeth Van Meter gives us a look into a complicated and conflicted life that has led her to something amazing.

Entitled “The Purpose Project: Thao’s Library,” it’s a story of the series of events that led Elizabeth to  throw her life into a very different direction after seeing a picture, taken by her friend Stephen, of a young Vietnamese girl born with birth defects due to the use of Agent Orange during the war. Despite being born with the crippling deformities, Thao has opened a small library in her village outside Ho Chi Minh City and even tutors some of the local children who visit her library every day. For some reason, after seeing this photograph of this young woman in a wheelchair outside her family’s feed storage area that doubles as her library, Elizabeth became obsessed with finding and helping her.

Elizabeth Van Meter rivets the audience with her story of her life-changing events.

Elizabeth Van Meter rivets the audience with her story of her life-changing events.

As we delve into her life, we are reminded of the stories of Elizabeth’s younger sister, Vicki, who had become the youngest pilot- at age eleven- to fly across the country solo and later flew solo across the Atlantic at age thirteen. Clips from news and talk shows reveal her poise and strong personality as she talks with the likes of newsmen, politicians and TV personalities about her exploits. But it is a tragic turn of events involving Vicki that we ultimately see is the impetus for Elizabeth’s  involvement with Thao and eventually creating The Purpose Project which assists others to bring about positive changes in their communities.

Now that she has used her unflinching drive to bring about change, Elizabeth Van Meter has created this one woman multi-media event to bring her story of persistence and self-discovery to a larger audience. She is a dynamic actress with an electric personality that makes this journey we take with her even more compelling. She manages to draw us in with the highs and lows of her personal life and her far-reaching goals that have helped lead her to, not only creating the Purpose Project but also establishing documentary film projects- one of which will be one based on “Thao’s Library.”

Running only about 70 minutes, this is one of the most compelling and life-altering theatrical experiences you’re likely to have. The lives of these two outstanding women on opposite sides of the world finding each other to form one incredible story makes for great theatre. It’s only running through September 15th, so call Mustard Seed at 314-719-8060 or at mustardseedtheatre.com for tickets or more information.

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