Fringe Act 2015 Introduction
In our second introduction we are proud to present to you Rebecca Lea McCarthy as she shares her very personal story and offers profound words on creating theatre, and how life is a struggle, but with support, one can find comfort to heal and become stronger.
What is Singing the Diaphragm Blues about?
“Singing the Diaphragm Blues” is based off my book Writing the Diaphragm Blues and other Sexual Cacophonies. It is also a partnership between me and my creative other half, Dale Westgaard, who directed and helped craft the show. It’s a show that takes a humorous and serious look at female sexuality from childhood to menopause, and all the stuff that happens in-between. It looks at my experience specifically, but with an understanding that there is something “universal” there in the process for women and men. That effort to figure it all out and feel comfortable in your own skin, when it’s all said and done. Not an easy task in our world, for any of us. The show uses different theatrical approaches for this exploration, including traditional monologuing, clowning, improv, music, social media, and a bit of roller derby thrown in at the end.
Wow, you certainly do use a lot of theatre elements. Ok, I have to ask. You arrive in Hawai’i and you see three things. What are they and how can you use them in your play?
1. A Lei: What versatile things they are. I might use a few for the chicken, of course. A lei can also stand for a symbolic diaphragm; and there is the potential for all those bad “lei” jokes: “We all get leid!” or “come to my show and get leid.” And then there is the “let me lay you down, across the ley lines, and lay you with a lei” (said in a Barry White voice). Really, the jokes are old, endless, but reliable and funny in their predictable-ness :)
2. Coconuts: Sound effects or maybe the core makings for a chastity belt?
3. Aloha: Imagine if Groucho Marx had used this word in his famous song: “Aloha, I must be Alohaing.” But seriously, Aloha is an amazing word because it has so many different definitions, and it needs to be felt as well as offered … spoken. I would like to find moments of deep Aloha throughout the show, for myself and the audience, and this alone would be the most significant thing I could do.
I’ve read that you struggle with a wayward chicken. Is there a chicken in your production?
Yes, but I can’t tell you how we use the chicken, since that would spoil the fun! Chickens are tricky things, even when they are store bought. Last year, a wayward chicken thrust “chicken gate,” upon us – or maybe it was thrust upon the poor chicken, which might be more accurate. Anyway, on the way to the theatre, I forgot the chicken on the roof of my car, all nicely packed in its greens, carrots, and potatoes. Dale and I were a few blocks into our travels, when we noticed people were honking and calling from their cars at us … I thought they were asking to get around us and into the left hand lane, but apparently they were more concerned about the uncooked meal on the roof of the car. One man got out of his car at the light, and started to come toward us, but we were already turning. Long story short, the chicken was, thankfully, in tact when I pulled to the side of the road to retrieve it. Egad!
But, the wild chickens in Hawaii will be happy to know that they have nothing to fear from me, I promise. Also, we will likely be introducing some fake chickens into the act this time around too. Chicken juggling anyone?
Did you struggle with life as you were growing up?
Sure, and I am not sure I have met anyone who didn’t struggle growing up. That’s what makes us who we are; and thank goodness for these struggles, because there would be no comedy or drama without them … Indeed, no need for theatre at all.
What is one area that you talk about in your play you had second thoughts about revealing to an audience?
Being raped and sexually abused, I find these topics are difficult to write and speak about, because we have been raised in a world of silence regarding sexual abuse – especially when that abuse occurs in family units. People want to hear about such things and, at the same time, would rather you not talk about them at all. It is a double-edged sword, and such experiences are highly individualized as well as being universal in scope. In the end, my creative partner in this venture, Dale Westgaard and I found it was more compelling to talk about this from my mother’s point of view, rather than my point of view, exploring the emotions she had to deal with once she found out both her daughters had been raped by a family member, and experienced further sexual abuse in school environments. If there is a tightrope to be walked in this show, it is this scene. Singing the Diaphragm Blues is mostly a comedy, but a comedy steeped in real life.
Thank you for sharing this very personal story. Can you please share how much have you grown to appreciate your own life with all its triumphs (and struggles) through the lens of theatre?
A great deal. I’ve been involved with theatre since I was five. I did my first professional play when I was six. And through the years, I’ve worked to understand different moments in my life by taking on roles and writing monologues, scenes, and plays about what I’ve encountered. Theatre has been my therapist, my best friend, and my archenemy. Thank goodness for theatre and all it gives us!
O’ahu Fringe Festival wishes the production Singing the Diaphragm Blues a safe trip to Honolulu and the very best with their performances at Fringe 2015.