Becca McCoy stages uncertainty, memories in ‘Year of Extraordinary Travel’

Becca McCoy acting in “Flying,” co-production between Tampa Repertory Theatre and Studio@620 in Tampa. She stars in her own play at Onward Theatre in Adair Park on April 12 and 13.

Credit: Photo by Megan Lamasney

Credit: Photo by Megan Lamasney

Becca McCoy acting in “Flying,” co-production between Tampa Repertory Theatre and Studio@620 in Tampa. She stars in her own play at Onward Theatre in Adair Park on April 12 and 13.

This story was originally published by ArtsATL.

The best live storytelling takes audiences on a journey, though they never leave their seats. It transports them to new places and experiences, gives them emotional uplift and connects them to exotic sights and characters. With Becca McCoy’s autobiographical show ”The Year of Extraordinary Travel,” running April 12-13 at Adair Park’s Onward Theatre, the actor and photographer will share the story of how she spent 12 full months exploring eight states and seven other nations.

“It happened by accident, organically,” she said in a phone interview from her Smyrna home. “I got divorced. I turned 40. I was working three jobs and wanted a significant change.”

Her travels began with New York in September 2018 and concluded a year later on the other side of the world.

“I just sold a bunch of things, put stuff in storage and went on one kind of business-oriented trip at the beginning,” McCoy said. “And then that led to another one. And I scheduled another one a couple months out. Then I looked at all these pieces that I was starting to assemble and said, ‘I bet I could make a full year out of this.’ I didn’t have an idea that it would be a book or a play. I just did it because I realized I had time, health and money, and I’ve never had those three things at the same time before and may never again.”

Instead of feeling lost, she went on a sort of vision quest.

“This was me filling the space in my life between the ‘no longer’ and the ‘not yet,’” she said, referring to her severed marriage and unknown future.

Actor-photographer Becca McCoy created a coffee-table book titled "The Year of Extraordinary Travel." A friend persuaded her to turn it into a play that carries the same title.

Credit: Courtesy of Becca McCoy

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Credit: Courtesy of Becca McCoy

Once the 2020 pandemic hit and the world became unpredictable for everyone, McCoy viewed her trip across several continents as more than a personal journey, instead finding lessons in how we all connect to the world around us. So she turned hundreds of her photographs into a coffee-table book.

But her friend Vickie Daignault, who directs “Travel,” encouraged McCoy, who is a professional actor, to create a script she could perform as a one-woman show. McCoy said Daignault also helped her craft the collected memories into a clear story for the stage.

“Even when I had this moment in my own life that had a beginning, middle and end — and even though I’ve spent my life performing other people’s words — it didn’t seem like a play to me; it seemed like a book,” McCoy said. “Because I thought I wasn’t a playwright. I was a writer and a photographer, so it was a coffee-table book. But Vickie saw its potential. You carry the audience with you.”

The show uses hundreds of photos and video projections to tell the story with visual flair, but McCoy said this is nothing like your favorite aunt’s vacation slide show. As she retells her own journey through her own words, she reexperiences how she felt in moments of uncertainty.

“It lends an emotional honesty to it without it being therapy,” she said. “I didn’t start out intending to have a transformative experience. It was me and friends, partying, going to see shows, soaking up these great vibes and places. But because I allowed myself to put one foot in front of the other, the journey changed. Because I changed while on the journey.”

At different points on her trip, McCoy was joined by a diverse group of travel companions, including her daughter, mother, the guy she was dating and her trans best friend, all of whom provided her with a different perspective on the cultures they observed. McCoy watched how differently her fellow travelers reacted to the world and how they were received by the locals.

“In the last trip of 2019, I was alone in Thailand, absolutely confronted with my own ignorance, my own Americanness and the flaws that come with that,” she admitted.

The trip was a positive and inspiring experience, full of many twists, and the show reflects that. The fact that her journey ended right before the world shut down is a stroke of luck, she said.

“The fact that this year happened at all was a pretty remarkable feat of timing,” McCoy added.


“The Year of Extraordinary Travel”

8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 12-13 at Onward Theatre. $10. 711 Catherine St. SW, Atlanta.


Benjamin Carr is an ArtsATL editor-at-large who has contributed to the publication since 2019 and a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Atlanta Press Club and the Horror Writers Association. His writing has been featured in podcasts for iHeartMedia, onstage as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival and online in The Guardian. His debut novel, Impacted, was published by The Story Plant.

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Credit: ArtsATL

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Credit: ArtsATL


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