Not Enough by Megan Phillips
August 13, 15 – 18, 21 at Venue #10: Acacia Hall
More information: meganphillips.com
An interview with Megan Phillips.
Describe your show in five words.
Intense, real, hilarious, hopeful…and enough.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?
Megan (that’s me!) signs up for a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, because the Universe told her to. She’s been having some moments in her life causing her to believe that maybe — just maybe — all the chaos that’s been happening might not be anyone else’s fault… there might be something wrong with her. And she’s scared. Not one to disobey the Universe, Megan goes ahead with her plan… and suddenly, meets … Anxiety? After a few conversations with this new “pal” she didn’t know existed in her brain, Meg realizes immediately that this is not the peaceful, perfect retreat she came here to have (Anxiety’s pretty sure it’s “a torture chamber” and spends most of the retreat trying to convince Megan to leave in very relatable ways), and therein lies the struggle: does she leave, the way she always has when things get hard… or does she stay in a torture chamber to fulfill a commitment that she probably doesn’t need to fill anyway?
A true story of change, forgiveness, and becoming enough.
What was the impetus for you to create Not Enough?
I had this life-changing experience on Day 4 at a silent Vipassana meditation retreat last year that gave me perspective on all the ways I’d been self-sabotaging over the years, and had an inkling it all might make a good show. I wasn’t sure, though, so I wrote TJ Dawe and asked if he might be interested in hearing my idea to see if it had legs. I’d been stalking/I mean FOLLOWING TJ ever since I saw Medicine in 2012 … that was the first time I’d ever seen a solo show that married theatre, comedy, and true emotional growth experiences… and I was like “Iwannadothattttt!!” And then I got my own experience that I could write about.
And when I told TJ about it, it turned out the show had more than just legs, it had muscles and a spine. TJ agreed immediately to come on board as dramaturg/director, and we spent the winter 2015/2016 writing NOT ENOUGH. This was the hardest thing I have ever written/created…. mostly because it’s been flipping the bird to all the shame that wants to hold my secret inside-thoughts away from the world (crazy as they are)… but also the most rewarding. I’m REALLY stoked to share this show with Edmonton.
Not Enough is about your own experience with an anxiety disorder, but what do you hope audience members take away from the show?
For those who are aware they have anxiety, the hope is this can validate their experience, as I am in the trenches myself, working through the same stuff, and finding the strength to see my patterns in humour. There’s something extraordinarily empowering about finding the funny in the scary dark feelings, and seeking out the like-minded people who will guffaw right with you: we laugh because we KNOW how awful those voices are, and how we’ve lived through them.
For anyone who has anxiety but might not be aware of it, the hope is this can put a voice and a name to the nagging feeling. The biggest times I’ve self-sabotaged to date have been before I had a name for Anxiety… it was just a gnawing feeling or voice in my head that I would listen to without question.
And lastly, for anyone who does not have anxiety, but has a loved one who does suffer from it: the hope is this show gives a look inside the experience of someone who is suffering from Anxiety. There is a scene where I have a panic attack, and an audience member in Winnipeg came up to me afterwards and told me that scene was an “a-ha” for him, it gave him insight as to how his partner’s brain works when she has panic attacks, and suddenly he had way more compassion for her in their relationships. That, to me, is the most incredible gift that my art can give.
What does your show’s title Not Enough refer to? Why or how did you land on that title?
The title refers to a feeling we all get, to some extent, of just feeling like we’re not enough… we’re not ______ enough (pretty/thin/fat/rich/successful/smart/loved/quirky/etc/etc/etc), and many (if not all) compulsive disorders/addictive behaviours (overeating/drinking/codependency/workahlism/etc) stem from feeling like we’re not enough. Many of us weren’t given the tools to learn how to address that feeling, so we distract and dumb it down through vices. That was/is my story, at least.
I landed on the title because in the show, I use a loop of the phrase “I’m not enough” repeated over and over as a drone, and it sets a soundtrack for each scene. I was a few days into repeating the loop when I realized that since this loop is the most consistent phrase people hear, it’s most likely going to be the thing they most remember from the show… plus it encapsulates the “not enough” message that our Anxiety brain likes us to think we are… so why not!
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
I use a loop pedal throughout the show to simulate anxiety: I’m seated for the majority of the show, and the loop is a soundscape throughout each scene. It can get intense… but so can anxiety. That’s the point! If it’s going to be there, we might as well find a way to laugh at it and find the strength to change our story. That’s why I made this show.
The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Tickets go on sale August 3 at noon and will be available at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.