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Sharon Isern

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Sharon Isern is an actor, artist (steampunkphage.com) and recovering academic (@profpathogen) who spends her days teaching and doing virus research with undergraduate students as a Professor of Biology at FGCU.

Although relatively new to acting, Sharon is building an impressive resume. Her stage credits include a server in Speed Dating and the woman in Where is Man? (both part of The Studio Players’ 3 Plays), exasperated campaign manager Alex Klein in Jason Odell Williams’ Church & State (for The Studio Players), a dutiful daughter in The Shadow Box (for New Phoenix Theatre) and a mother fleeing war in Everyone on this Train (for Ghostbird Theatre Company).

The latter role marked her theatrical debut. “Paired with mesmerizing Ghostbird vet Megan Shindler, Isern is particularly engaging,” this reviewer wrote of her performance. “The duo’s interactions as mother and daughter and their mid-show stargazing scene are two of the many highlights of this show.”

In The Shadow Box, Isern played a daughter caring for her terminally ill mother who suffers not only from Stage 4 cancer but dementia as well. Theirs is a sad dynamic. Agnes’ sister is, and has always been, her mother’s favorite – even though her sister died tragically of a hemorrhage many years ago. But mom doesn’t remember her daughter’s death. And to give her mother a reason to live, Agnes has been writing letters from her sister promising to visit soon. The subterfuge has worked too well. Now, buoyed by the promise of the chance to her daughter one last time, the old woman won’t give up the ghost even though her pain is so intense and debilitating that it is beyond not only the pale of the imagination, but the efficacy of the painkillers the doctors can prescribe.

Agnes’ plight is heartrending, and Isern wrings every ounce of emotion from the part without ever overplaying her role. She is simultaneously loving, sad, resentful and conflicted. Like many long-term caregivers, Agnes increasingly wishes that her mother would just die already and release her from the commensalistic relationship she shares with her mother. The concomitant guilt she feels is palpable, and gives rise to the most powerful scene and tearful moment in a play filled with tremendous poignancy and angst.

Sharon will next appear in the role of Camila Rosario in Lab Theater’s production of In the Heights.

October 1, 2019; revised March 8, 2020.

 

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