"It's like they say, 'Out of the mouths of babes,'" Waddy-Thibodeaux says.
A trend toward the one-person show that is equal parts confessional and catharsis (including Camryn Manheim's Wake Up, I'm Fat and David Drake's The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me) finds Waddy-Thibodeaux bringing her autobiographical piece, No Time to Cry, back to the Kansas City area this Monday. She wrote the piece two years ago and already has performed it at the Westport Coffee House and the Regional Domestic Violence Conference -- where Christi Campos, executive director of Kansas City's Domestic Violence Network, first saw it.
"The audience was largely made up of people who deal with this every day, and no one wasn't moved by it," Campos recalls. "It's very powerful and very focused and truly reflects the feeling of being a survivor."
Waddy-Thibodeaux's theatrical leanings took shape when she was in high school in Houston, Texas. Now 46, she spent time in the '70s acting, modeling and recording with a band called Meridian. She now travels the country performing a show about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad as well. But her most volatile life experience -- the one that caused those interests to take such a sharp detour -- has become her "bread and butter."
"In No Time to Cry, I play five different characters, the main one named Maggie Jones. Maggie is abused, leaves and hooks up with a recording contract. There are also a grandmother and a friend who urges her to get help. Through her faith -- and I don't want to place too much emphasis on religion -- Maggie finds faith in herself."
While it seems that she would need a certain amount of separation from the violence to perform the piece, Waddy-Thibodeaux says she never really detaches herself. "Every time I do it, there are flashbacks. But my theatrical training gave me the audacity to do it, to relive it in order to help other people."
Campos, whose agency manages the metrowide domestic violence help line (816-995-1000), has seen interest in domestic abuse wax and wane over the years. It seems to peak when something like Farrah Fawcett's The Burning Bed shows up on television, or when there's a high-profile victim, such as Nicole Brown Simpson. "The number of cases has decreased in the area," Campos says, "but is it because there are fewer cases reported? Every time it becomes an issue on TV, people say, 'Oh, yeah,' but it's our daily work. And one of the problems is that nobody uses the same definition of 'domestic violence.'"
She reiterates how triumphant Waddy-Thibodeaux's work really is, considering "that almost half of the women who do get away are then killed by their abusers. It's a fact that the family is the most violent institution in America."