Supporting creative work by women
Toronto-based performer and writer Rebecca Perry brings her solo show Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl to the Frigid Festival in New York after a lauded tour through the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit last year. She’s been hailed a “four-star performer” by The CBC, and the show has garnered BackDora and Jenny Awards.
Rebecca spoke to Works by Women about creating a show about the Millenial experience, which Canadian Fringe Festival experience sticks out for her, and how she plans to spend her couple weeks in New York. Vegetarian restaurants, here she comes!
WORKS BY WOMEN: Tell me about Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl.
REBECCA PERRY: It’s a story that comes from the real life experiences myself and other twenty-something graduates had while working at various coffee shops in Toronto. Every graduate gets out into the big, bad world and is eager to prove themselves…except in this economy a lot of us have to grab a full-time service job immediately to start paying off debt before we even receive our diploma. So what do you do? Do you let the real world get you down or do you make the most out of this “in-between” time in your life? And that is what this story is about: Joanie Little, a feisty redhead and wannabe biologist/primatologist ready to take on the world. If she can’t immediately be the next Jane Goodall of the world because she has to pay the bills first then you better bet she is gonna make this hip coffee shop her new “jungle” and the customers will be the “chimps” she shall observe! Cue: ridiculous situations and lots of caffeinated fun.
WBW: You toured the Canada Fringe circuit with the show last year. And this year, you are touring the US with it. What has been your favorite Fringe experience?
RP: Nothing has stuck with me like my very first “out-of-town” Fringe I performed at: The Winnipeg Fringe Festival. It is one of the largest in North America and the atmosphere is just buzzing with excitement and anticipation. More than 150 shows and so many big, beautiful, state-of-the-art theaters that get used to their full potential. Just an incredible experience. I met people there that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. My first day there was the day I fell in love with touring.
WBW: What excites you most about being part of the Frigid Festival?
RP: Easy question: it is in New York City. If that isn’t an inspiring incentive I don’t know what is. Every time I come down here (be it to see shows or participate in your wondrous cabaret and jazz scene) I am always awe-struck by the cutting edge theater I see. It makes me immediately pick up my pen and start writing or composing.
WBW: What other activities do you plan to do while in NYC?
RP: Well, when I am not hanging out with the awesome Frigid actors and Horse Trade company staff you can find me at Marie’s Crisis singing along to all the good old Broadway tunes or even performing myself (I am in The Frigid’s Canuck Cabaret and shall be picking up a microphone at various open mics in Hell’s Kitchen). During the day I have a huge list of theater to see, vintage shops to peruse and vegetarian restaurants to check off on my bucket list.
WBW: What’s next for you?
RP: After this I am home for a six weeks and then my show tours to Stratford, London, Toronto again, Saskatoon, Victoria and then Seattle. Fun ahead!
WBW: What are the challenges facing women in theater?
RP: I think believing in their voice and their place in theatre. Women in theater are valuable and necessary. Some of the best theatre I’ve seen this year has been written by female playwrights. Julie Taymor is a shining example: good directing and writing comes from talent, it does not matter what gender you are. There have been many times where I have doubted myself as an actor or playwright because I have felt inferior to some big bad male director or dramaturg, and you have to stand up for yourself and show them why you deserve to be doing what you do.
WBW: What gives you hope for women in theater?
RP: That we live in an age where anyone can be successful, no matter who you are or where you come from. I am excited for the next generation of female playwrights, directors and actors and what they will bring to the table. We are lucky to be witnessing the female power shift before our eyes.
You can catch Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl at the Frigid Festival February 21 through March 4. For more info and tickets, visit the Frigid Festival website.