Ketevan Kharshiladze Ussery never thought she would work as a salesperson when she emigrated from the Republic of Georgia to the United States in 2000.
But in 2003, after she moved from New York to Santa Fe, she did a six-month-long sales stint in a local jewelry store.
Ussery’s experiences are communicated through her original one-woman show “Hidden Treasure.” The play stars Ussery and is presented by Ironweed Productions from March 7 through 17 at Teatro Paraguas.
The material for “Hidden Treasure” came from journal writings about daily life at the jewelry store. Ussery took notes of things she observed and turned them into stories.
“I showed the writings to Scott Harrison (founder and artistic director of Ironweed Productions and the play’s director),” says Ussery. “His reaction was that I should present the stories as a one-woman play. I was hesitant because I really didn’t think anyone would want to listen to me with my heavy accent for more than 10 minutes. But Scott insisted that I do it by myself. I play eight different characters-my boss, my manager and my customers.”
Ussery is no stranger to the theater. She studied acting for five years, although she hasn’t acted on stage in quite some time. She enjoyed a long and prestigious career as the artistic director of a repertoire theater in the Republic of Georgia and was a university professor.
“I learned so much about America as a salesperson,” Ussery says. “It’s a situation where you meet all kinds of people from many different backgrounds. At the time, I was still experiencing what immigrants go through when they’re in a new country. The culture and politics are so different in America than they are in Georgia.”
Ussery credits her American husband John Ussery for helping her transform her spontaneous writings into the stories in “Hidden Treasure.”
“I originally thought that the play should have more than a dozen actors in it,” Ussery adds. “But I took a chance that Scott was right about it needing to be a show with only my voice.”