06/26/2011 03:49 pm ET | Updated Aug 26, 2011

My Journey With Manipulation , the New Off-Broadway Play at the Cherry Lane Theatre

Hello, my name is Saundra Santiago. I am an actress, for the last 30 years or so. I'm not going to go on. You can Google me to find out more if you want.

Anyway, I have been given this opportunity to begin a "blog" describing my experience being in a new Off-Broadway production of a new play by an exciting & fascinating new playwright, Victoria E. Calderon. She has written many plays, and was a journalist for some time as well, but this is the first time one of her plays has been produced in New York City, at the Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village.

I portray, "Beatriz," mother of "Cristina," heroine of the play, portrayed by the sexy, lovely, & talented Marina Squerciati.

Anyway, I have been connected with this project since January of 2011. I was first contacted by an acting coach/director, to do the reading in the writer's apt. with a cast of mostly friends of the director.

I say, yes, to mostly everything. Work is work, and you never know.

Months later, the 1st director calls me to ask me if I can commit to the project. I said yes, of course, because I loved doing the reading! I felt it was a good role for me to play, and a smooth transition into character roles.

Anyway, five months later, here I am, still doing Manipulation, even though the first director was released, as well as several of her actor friends in roles totally inappropriate for them, & we opened for previews for a minute. It is an experience I will not talk about, because I have purposely asked my consciousness to forget it.

Let me just say this. It would have made for a very interesting TV reality show about the making of an Off-Broadway play filled with strife. It was one of the most painful, crazy, and yet inspirational experiences of my career to date. I call us the Spider-Man of Off-Broadway.

Our alluring and fantastical playwright, Victoria E. Calderon, managed to turn it all around by refusing to give up. She also kept me and others healthy by bringing us freshly-cooked soup she had made on a daily basis. How I love soup!!! She hired our new wonderful director, William Pomerantz, (who totally re-imagined the piece); consultant, Gary Garrison; new sexy actors, including our new puppet master, Brendan McMahon, who also portrays our "Comandante." Yes, there is puppetry in the show. Something that began as the most tedious task I've had to do in a play yet, besides juggling, has turned out to be the most fun, challenging and yet, zen acting I've ever had to do. Character work through string puppetry.

These are not just any puppets either. They were created by the famed ANPU Theatre in the Czech Republic. There is also the theme of Revolution, Marriage, Infidelity, Betrayal, and a little Magical Realism in this intriguing & provocative play.

But I don't want to give anything away and tell you what the play is about. Come check it out. See for yourself! Olivia Newton-John and her husband were in the house last night. She's quite beautiful and so elegant. She met with the cast after and was genuinely entertained and moved as well.

If you get there early enough before the 8 o'clock showtime or the 3 p.m. matinees on weekends, you might happen to catch one of the many groups of tourists getting guided through the West Village and the history of the Cherry Lane Theatre on Commerce between Bedford and Hudson. It's quite fun and interesting to listen in on. This charming cul-de-sac is like a movie set, and at night you can smell Jasmine in the area!!!

I'm enjoying this most wonderful adventure with Manipulation now! My summer is turning out to be most interesting, most interesting indeed...