Talia Pura’s theater career unofficially launched when she was five years old and invited to appear in an 8th grade class play directed by her father. She spoke one line in German.
“I was hooked on theater after that experience,” she recalls.
Pura, who moved from Winnipeg, Canada to Santa Fe two years ago with her husband William Pura, a visual artist, stars in Edward Morris’s new one-woman play “The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg,” which receives its national premiere at Studio Center of Santa Fe and opens on April 26.
While Pura has performed in many one-woman plays during her career, this one is special.
“I’ve written about 10 solo shows for myself, and this is the first one-woman play I’ve presented that I have not written,” she explains. “Like many of my solo plays, it’s about a not very well-known woman from history.”
Pura’s career as a playwright began in the early 1990s. A former high school drama teacher and university professor who earned a master’s degree in creative writing, Pura has written approximately three dozen plays, many of which have been performed by theater companies in Canada.
Her play “Cry After Midnight” was a commission from the Canadian Armed Forces as part of an artists program in which she participated in 2010. Pura spent two weeks in Afghanistan gathering information for the play, which was presented as a reading at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
Pura is not only an actor and playwright but also a costume designer who made her own clothes during childhood and even sewed her older sister’s wedding gown. Since arriving in Santa Fe, she has made costumes for close to a dozen Santa Fe theater company productions. She also made her own costumes for “The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg.”
And let’s not forget her career as an aerial artist that started 12 years ago. Pura has created around six solo aerial shows, one of which starred Pura suspended in the air wearing stilettos. In 2010, she created and recorded a two-minute aerial silks video (“Aerial Artistry,” which can be viewed on YouTube) that was commissioned by the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
“Aerial dance is the closest experience to actually flying,” she adds. “I’ve jumped out of an airplane once and been paragliding in Nepal, but aerial work with silks is a larger thrill for me.”
Pura studied aerial fabric in Toronto, Canada with Rebecca Devi Leonard, an aerialist who graduated from the Ecole Nationale du Cirque professional coaching program, and took a workshop with Wise Fool New Mexico before moving to town.
Last November, Pura wrote and performed a solo aerial drama based on a butterfly’s life cycle. “Metamorphosis,” which was based on the four stages in the life of the butterfly, was presented at Santa Fe’s Adobe Rose Theatre.
While Pura is passionate about aerial dancing, theater remains her first and primary love. She is the managing director of the black box theatre of The Studio Center of Santa Fe (former Warehouse 21) and the founder of Blue Raven Productions.
When she was approached about the possibility of playing the role of Ethel Rosenberg in “The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg,” she seized the opportunity.
“The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg” is based on actual letters exchanged in prison between Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, U.S. citizens who were accused of transmitting nuclear weapon designs to the Soviet Union and eventually tried, convicted and executed. The script focuses on Ethel’s agony at the prospect of being executed and leaving her two young sons behind.
William Pura’s paintings will be displayed in the lobby of the theater during the run of “The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg,” which takes place from April 26 through 29 and May 3 through 6. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com
To read more about Talia Pura, visit her website at taliapura.com