Written by Neil LaBute
Directed by Susannah Martin
Photos by Jeff Thomas & Steve Decker
Presented by Sonoma County Repertory Theater
September 22 – October 24, 2010
America is quite a conundrum when it comes to body image and weight issues. On one level, it feels like we talk about it all the time. Turn on the television and we are inundated with diet pills and fads, the latest surgery to eliminate obesity, and at least half a dozen reality shows that alternately cajole, dance, abuse, and humiliate overweight contestants into losing weight. On another level, we avoid looking at the issues behind why people are overweight and how we, as a society, treat obese people. We shame, blame, tease, and discriminate because obesity is seen as a choice that can be overcome by sheer force of will.
In contrast, Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig pulls no punches. It’s all right there in the title: we cringe when we read it – we blanche if we have to say it out loud. As he often has in both his plays and films, Mr. LaBute delves right to the heart – and gut – of any matter: be it gender, romance, religion, or body image. He has no interest in being politically correct; his characters say the things that, though we may not admit it to ourselves, we are thinking or feeling on some primal level.
This play does not shy away from our secret (or not-so-secret) belief that fat people are slovenly beings who deserve what they get. The writing gets right to the core of the shame that we all carry with us about our bodies – or about the bodies of those that we choose to love. It is a play about that shame and those secrets. But also, the play does not shrink from the fact that these ideas about body and weight, and the shame and secrets we carry because of it, are heaved with quadruple force at women.
You may read this and say, “Not me. I don’t feel/think that way. I don’t act that way. I would never say the things that people say, or do the things people do, in this play.” OK. But ask yourself if you agree – even a tiny bit – with the core philosophy espoused by Carter, the play’s designated “Dr. a**hole”:
“It’s one of the many laws of nature. ‘Run with your own kind.’”
And then, put yourself in Tom’s shoes. We all want to be admirable – to stand up for what we believe in – to put our heart and soul and conviction behind the person we love; in the words of Helen, the designated “fat pig” of the title, we all want to be “good and strong and brave.” Are we? Can we be? With the ridiculous (not to mention unhealthy and unrealistic) expectations and images thrown at us about what we’re supposed to look like, can we fully embrace and love ourselves and others – no shame, no fear, no baggage attached? Can we, as Helen also says, not be afraid, take a blind chance, and not care what people think?
Jeannie / Casi Maggio
Tom / Tim Redmond
Carter / Dan Saki
Helen / Jennifer Stukey
Artistic Director / Scott D. Phillips
Costume Design / Rebecca Redmond
Production Manager + Properties Design + Lighting Design / April George
Stage Manager / Rachel Huey
Set Design / Steve Decker
Sound Design / Joe Winkler