Drunk Girl at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Thea Fitz-James in DRUNK GIRL. Photo credit: Shane Adamczak

Thea Fitz-James in DRUNK GIRL. Photo credit: Shane Adamczak

Drunk Girl by Thea Fitz-James
August 13 – 21 at the Old Strathcona Library
More information: theafitzjames.com

An interview with Thea Fitz-James.

Describe your show in five words.

feminism. drinking. love. control. Total-eclipse-of-the-heart

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

The show is an exploration of women’s relationship with alcohol from the celebratory ladies night, to the college campus drinking culture. We follow two characters– the drunk girl and the academic– as they drink the night away, getting lost in a rollercoaster of calorie-counting keg parties, false feminisms, denial and love. As they attempt to understand why they drink, they are only lost further down the rabbit hole. This one women show mixes storytelling and theatre to ask tough questions on the relationship between women and alcohol, offering no simple answers about the intimacy, tenacity, celebration and terror of women who drink.

Drunk Girl is described as part theatre piece, part storytelling show. Can you describe the difference between the two formats and how they work together in this show?

That’s a good question: I don’t really think they are that different, although some storytellers and theatre people would disagree with me. The storytelling aesthetic is one that puts a focus on writing and delivery over performative moments, or theatrics. So in storytelling, it’s often one person with a microphone, and the stories are presumed to be real. This aesthetic is what I think all theatre should strive to do, and is certainly the way I wrote the show: I have written from real experiences, and most of the show is simple in style. That said, I have created two ‘characters’– arguably two facets of me– who talk back and forth on the nature of drinking and feminism. The entire show is one big storytelling show about my relationship with alcohol, my relationship with university culture/rape culture, my relationship with growing up in a small town, with my mother… but its also about these two women, and their daily struggles. When the two come together, what you get is a beautiful mix of reality and fiction, of theatre magic and no-nonsense delivery. And this mix seems to be closer to the human experience that one or the other. Especially when discussing slippery terrain like women and drinking.

What questions did you want to explore in Drunk Girl?

How we can make drunk girls powerful… or can we make them powerful. I was curious if there was an agency in the stereotype of the drunk college student clubbing late at night. Can she be a feminist figure? If so what is the nature of her feminism? These questions lead me to more questions still, ones that helped unpack and complicate women’s unique relationship with alcohol.

You mention that your analysis of what people say about drunk girls is done while struggling with your high heels. Why choose heels as part of your wardrobe and how do they play into the show?

The image of a young woman, walking home late at night with her heels in hand, is one that seems ubiquitous with assumptions we have about drunk girls. The high heel is an interesting, paradoxical feminist image in the same way that the drunk girl is. Sure, high heels might be an image of female oppression, but they have become a huge part of feminine identity and gendered performance. So the heel is an evocative image– not only does it change the way the body moves, it also represents the drunk girl’s trepidatious power. Her struggle with her heels at the end of the night may mirror the audiences struggle with these complicated contradictory feminist figures.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

That it is not a show about alcoholism… although that waits in the wings. And it in no way glorifies alcohol use. Instead, its an unapologetic look at the unique relationship between women and alcohol and how that takes place in contemporary culture and in the contemporary imagination.

The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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