FUGLY at Edmonton Fringe Festival

Fugly
C103 (8529 Gateway Blvd.), August 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22
More information: thejanes.org 


An interview with Heather Falk of The Janes

Helen Knight and Heather Falk in FUGLY. Photo credit: Leon Schwesinger

Helen Knight and Heather Falk in FUGLY. Photo credit: Leon Schwesinger

Describe your show in five words.

Hilarious. Bizarre. Stylish. Dynamic. Magical.

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

FUGLY is an Alice-In-Wonderland-inspired adventure that reflects on the dark underbelly of feminine identity. The story centers around Perdita, who has devoted her life to mastering the aesthetic arts at the unfortunate expense of pretty much all else, including her mind. She literally stumbles through the looking glass in search of her newly lost mind, and with the help of an impish guide named Echo, she must navigate through a host of bizarre and exacting characters who are determined to reflect back on her anything but a pretty face.

FUGLY is about “the struggle to be authentic in a world that values the superficial”, however, it strikes me that a scripted show is inherently a little inauthentic. How do you reconcile that and “keep it real” in your show?

We are a performance creation trio, and our work comes from our own struggles. FUGLY is a vulnerable show, and while often absurd and exaggerated, it hits close to home. Much of it is probably more autobiographical than we’d like to admit.

We chose to share our own fugliness through story. We need stories, not because we as society can’t handle the truth, but because the truth – with all of it’s variables – is often too big for us to fully take in. Stories, parables, and case-studies (and lets face it, FUGLY is a little bit of all these things) are a distilled version of reality – making it more heightened, yes, but also more compelling and sometimes more direct.

The show asks some big questions that are difficult to answer (and I get the impression the intent is not necessarily to answer those questions). Can you tell us a bit about the creation process for this show and how you tackled the act of asking those big questions?

We wanted to bring something to life that accurately discussed how society instills in us a sense of self loathing from an early age: focusing our minds on constantly seeking a perfection that doesn’t exist. In pursuit of the outer, our inner often gets reaaally f*cking ugly, (or FUGLY if you will), until we’ve lost ourselves.  We three were not immune; our preoccupation with how we looked, fit in, and general self hate were becoming daily conversation topics.  Where did this drive to be “more ideal” than what we already were come from? What the hell did 3 young (and arguably slender women) have to complain about anyway? Surely we had better things to do with our time and energy?  FUGLY  is the result of talking about a lot of that – if we don’t talk about how messed up things are then we’re staying complicit in a cycle that harms us.

After many months of interviews, self reflection and research, the first FUGLY draft was born. Three years later, with a whack of talented people involved along the way and two sold out runs, it has now landed at the Edmonton Fringe!

Throughout it’s creation process, we were very much intent on not giving answers to the questions FUGLY poses. Reason being, we do not have them (if we did, we’d be writing advice columns instead of plays), also because we know audiences are smart; people go away talking about this show, and questions have the ability to spark discuss and change.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

The biggest response we get from theatre professionals and non-theatre goers alike is that this show should been seen by everyone (men, women, teens etc..). We consistently have a great response from men. They really get it too. This struggle we’re talking about is not just a girl thing.

Bonus question: Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show (Edmonton arts people or otherwise)?

Thank you to Trevor Rueger from Alberta Playwright’s Network, Charles Netto from Swallow-a-Bicycle, and The Kinkonauts. All have been involved in the formation of this show in one way or another.

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 jennamarynowski@gmail.com.

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