Diana Nyad turns her record swim into a 1-woman stage show

AP News
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Posted: Feb 20, 2015 4:00 PM
Diana Nyad turns her record swim into a 1-woman stage show

NEW YORK (AP) — Diana Nyad, who made history as the first person to swim across the Florida Straits without a shark cage, isn't scared of wading into another challenge — theater.

The 65-year-old endurance swimmer is performing "Onward! The Diana Nyad Story," a one-woman show in Key West, Florida, near the spot where in 2013 she achieved her dream of 35 years.

"I think the show has a little bit of a lightening-in-a-bottle to it. I think big and I'd love to make it to Broadway," she said by phone Friday. "But, as I've learned with anything, the only way to get there is to work quietly and slowly, step by step by step."

Nyad is performing the 90-minute show five times at The Studios of Key West, ending Sunday. It's directed and adapted by Josh Ravetch, who helped shape Carrie Fisher's show "Wishful Drinking."

In the show, Nyad focuses on her record-breaking 110-mile, 53-hour swim from Cuba to Key West on Labor Day 2013, as well as stories from her childhood. It uses photographs, video and special effects, and Nyad even wears a jellyfish mask.

It opens with Nyad in a swimsuit on a hidden platform 3 feet off the stage, pretending to swim while surrounded by jellyfish, and singing Neil Young's "The Needle and Damage Done."

Other songs include Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee." ''Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and "The Beverly Hillbillies" theme song. "Once you get tired out there, that nice, complex playlist of yours goes down to children's' ditties," she said, laughing.

In the years since the swim, Nyad has been on "Dancing With the Stars," met Oprah Winfrey, did a 48-hour swim to raise money for victims of Superstorm Sandy and written a memoir, out in the fall.

The idea of making her swim into a stage show came naturally to a woman who has become a sought-after public speaker who has given TED talks — those provocative short speeches by innovative and influential people from a variety of disciplines.

"Believe me, there are many things in this life I don't do well. I could make you a long list. One thing I do well is tell a story," she said. "I'm a natural storyteller. Where better to tell a story than on a stage, live, in front of real people?"

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Online: https://tskw.org/onward-diana-nyad