When actor and singer-songwriter Anne Stott first arrived in Provincetown in 2007, she wasn’t expecting to stay long. She had planned a four-month winter writing retreat as an escape from New York City, where she was then living.
But by the fourth month, she had learned she could “play the street” here, so she stayed for the summer. David Drake saw her busking in front of town hall and cast her in a play he was directing at the Art House, and she stayed a little longer. “At some point,” says Stott, “I thought, ‘Do I live here?’
“If you’re meant to be here, you’re going to be here,” she continues. “Provincetown will have its way with you.”
Provincetown is tiny compared with New York City, but it is an “equally demanding” place, says Stott. If you’re navigating Commercial Street in the high season, for example, “The level of challenge is the same.” What is different, she says, is the “massive humanity” of the people who live here.
Stott is looking forward to experiencing some of that humanity this weekend. She will be performing her show “Scorpio Blonde” on Friday and Sunday at Pilgrim House.
“I like to say I’m from everywhere and nowhere because I moved around a lot,” says Stott. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Luxembourg, England, then Minnesota. She was always singing and acting — things that naturally went together for her. She went to Barnard College, originally as a theater major, but switched to comparative religion.
Her career path has meandered. She took a long break from acting before Drake “rediscovered” her. But she was always playing gigs and making music.
For a while, she was involved in political activism (she was a member of the Lesbian Avengers) but “hit a wall” because she wanted to do something more creative. The solution, she thought, was to go to massage school: “It’s a skill you can do anywhere. It was still healing, being of service.” She did that for a few years, then worked as — believe it or not — a bookkeeper. But since coming to Provincetown, she has been making it as an actor and musician. She has released two albums of original music, Love Never Dies and Pennsylvania.
As for musical inspirations — which she refuses to call influences, because “Aren’t we all influenced by everything?” — she says, “I return to Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, the Talking Heads. I never actively listened to Joni Mitchell. But the more I write, the more I want to listen to her. Those are artists I go back to, and they feed me.”
She has tried her hand at writing political songs, such as “Hey America Stand,” which is about racism, but it’s a special skill. “As a woman, as a queer person, I think it’s a political act to do what you want to do, to take up space,” she says.
“Scorpio Blonde” is Stott’s first live performance, aside from monthly live-streams, since the beginning of the pandemic. “It’s going to feel like everything,” she predicts. “Exciting and fun and coming home. It’s also going to feel sad and big and maybe even a little disorienting. Probably a bunch of stuff I can’t imagine.” The timing is slightly surreal: on Saturday, the day between her two sets, all of Massachusetts is opening up.
The show was originally written for the 2018 Afterglow Festival, but Stott has tweaked it a bit. “It’s more music than talking,” she says. “There’s ranting and musing. Sometimes a story and song. Sometimes half a story, half a song.” It’s a funny mix of acting and performing, she says, but not all that different from a normal set — for her, there is always some scripting involved.
Stott’s acting and music-making go hand in hand. “I like the way the two things speak to each other,” she says. “They feed each other onstage. There’s a momentum about it that I like.” Furthermore, her experience as a songwriter has had a big impact on how she interprets a script and thinks about the meaning behind the words.
The show “takes on all the big Scorpio themes,” Stott says: “Self-discovery, phoenix rising from the ashes, desire, jealousy, righteous arrogance, secrets.”
And, yes, she’s into astrology. “I’m into expansion, I’m into wonder — this idea that these planets that I can’t even see are influencing my life,” says Stott. “My attitude is, I can use all the help I can get. Bring it.”
Written in the Stars
The event: Anne Stott performs “Scorpio Blonde”
The time: Friday, May 28, 9 p.m.; Sunday, May 30, 6 p.m.
The place: Pilgrim House, 336 Commercial St., Provincetown
The cost: Tickets are $22 at pilgrimhouseptown.com