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La Jolla Playhouse’s Social Media Campaign Goes To Stage

Above: Doris and Paul Sutton on their wedding day. The Suttons were second place winners in "Your Life, Our Stage."

If you were going to cherry-pick your life for its most compelling moments – those you could imagine enacted on the stage in front of an audience of thousands (ok, hundreds) - what moments would you choose? Would you look for comedy or tragedy? Maybe the awkward first kiss or a disastrous work crush? A gaffe upon meeting the in-laws? Or the more serious, like losing a parent or running into a former lover at the grocery store?

Last spring, the La Jolla Playhouse gave people the opportunity to share their most stage-worthy moments in a web-based campaign called "Your Life, Our Stage." They invited people to submit ideas for a play based on their own life stories to the site Brickfish. The winner would see their idea transformed into a short theatrical piece, written by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Doug Wright ("I Am My Own Wife," "Creditors") and then staged at the Playhouse.

Out of 350 entries, the grand prize winner is a tale of dating woe by Kimberly Sweeney, a marriage and family therapist in the Bay Area. Her story is titled "It's a Small World After All." Let's just say it's a meet-cute moment in LA that goes meet-gross. Here's her entry:

I am queen of the small world experience. Here’s a story to prove it…After finishing college in the Midwest I immediately moved to Los Angeles looking for a little excitement and, let's just be honest, a husband. One night I was out drinking with a friend and I spotted “him.” Our attraction was immediate and easy conversation followed. I couldn’t believe how much we had in common: both Jewish, both working in the entertainment industry, and both raised in Minnesota. We began leaning into each other, holding hands, he was buying me drinks and I was mentally planning our wedding. I steered the conversation towards family. We were perfect for each other; the last thing I needed to establish before mentally moving with him to the suburbs and having two children (one boy and one girl) was that he was close with his family. I could never marry a man who wasn’t close with his family! My soon-to-be husband mentioned his last name was Rosenberg to which I replied, “that’s SO funny -- every Jewish family must have Rosenbergs because I have cousins with the last name Rosenberg!” We laughed at the coincidence…until we discovered we were second cousins.

An exclusive performance of Sweeney's "It's a Small World After All" will take place this Saturday night after the 8pm performance of "The 39 Steps." Sweeney and ten of her friends (part of the winning package) will be in attendance.

The runners-up hail from Southern California (represent!). Paul and Doris Sutton came in second with their sweet tale titled "Doris and Paul, La Jolla's Legendary Couple." What's so great about their win and participation is that they're competing in a social media competition and they're in their 80s! Paul wrote love songs for Doris during WWII, their first dance was the samba, and their first conversation was about comparative religion. I'm imagining some kind of Fred and Ginger number, followed by some snappy dialogue about Zen Buddhism.

The third prize, also the "most viral", went to Chula Vista resident Teri Brown for her entry "My Life as Teri Garr." Brown, a local actress, has always identified with the Hollywood actress but when Brown was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis two years ago, the similarities between the two women turned uncanny. Garr also has MS and is a national spokesperson for the disease.

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