After the House Lights

One Flew Over the Cubicle at Edmonton Fringe Festival

Janice Israeloff in One Flew Over the Cubicle. Photo supplied.


One Flew Over the Cubicle
Acacia Hall (10433 – 83 avenue) August 15, 19, 20, 21, 23, and 24

An interview with Janice Israeloff

Describe your show in five words.

Success stories are survival stories.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

One Flew Over the Cubicle is about a woman, Libby Guttman, who needs to support her family because of mounting debt but she has outdated job skills from having stayed home to take care of her 3 kids. Armed with an even more outdated English degree from the ‘80’s she sets off to find meaningful work. |Meanwhile….her dad becomes ill with Alzheimer’s but he lives 600 miles away, so she runs back and forth trying to care for her father while working in a series of soul sucking telemarketing jobs including a stint at a dating sex phone line. I am not shy about saying this is an autobiographical story.

Your show is about a difficult situation that many people are facing now – trying to support their parents while also taking care of their families and themselves. What approach do you take to this topic?

When you are dealing with an aging parent you need to face the reality that things are only going to get worse. This play does not shy away from this reality even though it is something we don’t like to talk about. In a similar way when people talk about their jobs they tend to focus or career successes. This story is about working in jobs, like telemarketing that nobody wants to do–the kind of jobs you are embarrassed to tell people about.  The approach that Libby uses to deal with these uncomfortable realities is first of all to use humor and, secondly, she finds a way to renew hope after each setback or failure.

You’ve performed in two other solo works – are you drawn to solo shows and if so, why?

I am definitely drawn to solo performances because I am terrified of standing up in front of audiences. I think is the most frightening thing you can do without putting yourself in physical danger. Every time I get up on stage I have to overcome this fear, nothing makes me feel more alive. I also have a strong need to tell stories: solo performing your own material is the ultimate way to engage your mind body and soul in the story telling process.

Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show?

First of all my dad, Joseph Israeloff. He has advanced Alzheimer’s and can no longer speak but he still enjoys music and companionship. I know he would be proud to see me perform: he was the inspiration to write this play. And my mother Libby Israeloff who died of cancer 11 years ago. I named the character Libby to honor my mom. She was an actress too for a while and I used to watch her rehearse. I think the acting bug hit me during those times! Michael Smith is really the reason I’m still acting. He was the one who applied to all the fringe Festivals and pushed for me not to quit, co wrote and directed me. Finally I would like to mention Heidi Collins-McCann and Gord McCann. They graciously agreed to billet me and are long time volunteers for the Edmonton Fringe. They have already gone out of their way to make me feel welcome before even arriving. If they are any indication of the spirit of the Edmonton Fringe then I know this will be a fantastic experience!

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

You will laugh and cry. Anyone who has had a horrible job or has had to care for an aging parent or grandparent can relate to this show. My hope is that after you see this show you will feel that there is a positive future beyond your crappy job and the thought of a loved one pining away in retirement home. Everyone can find a way to fly over his or her own cubicle.

The 33rd Edmonton International Fringe is August 14 – 24. I’ll be previewing shows up until the Fringe starts. Want your show to appear on After the House Lights? Email