Feminists, fairies and fooling around
WordFest’s Out. Loud. Live. kept audience laughing all night long
“You are witness to an experiment. This is theatre in the raw, reading in the raw.”
These were the words which Alison Wearing started her presentation in Out. Loud. Live. at Calgary Wordfest. And she proved true to her word. This event was not so much authors reading from books as taking their written work to a different medium — comedy — and acting to connect with the audience.
Of course, none of the three performing women were just authors. Wearing, who started the event, is a writer, dancer and actress — and is currently touring and starring in her own one-woman play. After international success with her first book Honeymoon in Purdah, she has introduced her memoir, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter.
This novel about her experience growing up with a gay dad combines the fascinating and mirthful story of her childhood with perfectly timed music and featured such stories as, “My first ‘gay fathers of Toronto’ picnic.” Wearing shared a segment of this one-woman show, which had inspired her to make the story into a novel.
With another unique collection of talent, Sara Tilley was the next author to grace the stage. St. John’s native Tilley is not just an author, but also a performer, playwright, editor, theatre artist and Pochinko Clown teacher (one of the few in the world).
After an opening excerpt from her novel Skin Room, Tilley donned the cap and red nose of a Pochinko clown – as she called it, “the thinnest mask in the world” – and performed four roles simultaneously from her current production, A Feminist Collective Trying to Perform the Entire History of Women in Newfoundland. This play was produced with the theatre company EstroCollective, but Tilley has also founded her own feminist theatre company called She Said Yes! Tilley is the current writer in residence at the University of Calgary.
The final author of the night, Ophira Eisenberg, is a Calgary-born comedian, now residing and working in Brooklyn. Her hilarious memoir, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, follows her life experiences as she goes from a tragic breakup to working with a Haitian witch doctor and finally to her current husband. Her performance demonstrated her incredible range, seamlessly shifting from side-splitting humour to incredibly sweet romance in just the few stories she told at the event. In addition to her novel, and the stories she has contributed to various anthologies, Eisenberg is a stand-up comedian and actress. She is currently hosting the trivia and game-show Ask Me Another, and often works with the storytelling company The Moth.
If you have not experienced WordFest before, it is definitely worth checking out. Whether you enjoy the spoken or written word, comedy, or learning improv or scripted – WordFest has a little bit of everything.