Supporting creative work by women
Tjasa Ferme returns to New York with her award-winning solo show, Wild Child in the City, after touring it to Bulgaria, Slovenia and Italy. Directed by Ana Margineanu (profiled by WBW in 2012 HERE), the piece is an epic rave and rant about living in the Big Apple. Ferme has turned her apartment (mis)adventures into a high octane, immersive show that will take Theaterlab in New York City by storm September 30th through October 2nd.
Works by Women spoke with Ferme about what brought her to theater, working in different theater cultures, and why she’s thrilled to perform her show at Theaterlab.
WORKS BY WOMEN: Why theater? What inspired you to be a theatermaker?
TJASA FERME: I feel it all comes from my Yugoslavian rock star dad. My grandma is dramatic and actually the whole family kind of theatrical. As a two-year-old my dad put me on stage with him to play tambourine with his rock band, and I think I just always secretly knew right away that’s my thing. When I was eight, I was cast as the evil witch in a school play and said to my mom that performing felt like God’s frequency, and I got hooked. I remember as a 10-year-old, I wondered if there are other ways of feeling this kind of high, and at 13, I was sure it will never come back. But I think I’m a theatermaker now because it feels the only way to be. It feels as if we don’t exist if we don’t express, create, self reflect. Whenever I see theater, good theater, I know deep in my heart that it will always exist in spite of all the technology and VR and 3D and holograms which I’m (not so secretly) obsessed with. I love everything of the future and I can’t wait for these forces to get more involved and enhance our theater experience but I think that nothing can replace an experience of people live witnessing a story unfold in front of their eyes. I believe it’s healing and transformative, and it builds understanding, love through the neuro-network of going through an experience together.
WBW: Your piece is about living in NYC. What is so primal about our apartments in the Big Apple?
TF: Yeah, how about how many people make 40x the rent to get on the lease and that being an artist doesn’t prove a predictable and stable income? Even a shitty apartment costs a lot so if I actually made that kind of money I sure wouldn’t want to live there! So, basically most of us are doomed to bum around until we get lucky or some rich prince saves us of our hippie fate.
Not my story. So at this point I stopped counting and abandoned all the lists, and I just write plays about my fiascos. Does a weekend crash at my friend’s count? What’s a positive take away from a subletter smearing walls with feces? Should I rather move to an alpine village or is a NYC cockroach inspired-song legit? On top of hopping, it’s been muggy, moldy, psychologically toxic and surely contributing to my impending death. But on the upside, I do believe American and international audiences have been having a good time laughing at all the mishaps, so it is to some avail!
WBW: Tell me about the inspiration for your piece, Wild Child in the City.
TF: I started writing this play after a guy broke into my apartment. Not trying to give away too much but the guy didn’t take anything. He pretended he was my boyfriend. At that point it just felt unbearable. I felt violated and like yet another proof that there’s no safe place to go. I wondered about my luck, and writing was the only escape or way to deal with the daunting realization of the absurd humor and paradoxes of living. It started orally and soon after coming up with story after story, I realized I have something consistent so I wrote it down.
WBW: You are originally from Slovenia. What are the differences/nuances of acting in different cultures?
TF: Let me preface this. I’m generalizing.
American theater is dry, always dry. Less of a director’s medium. It’s a verbal content-driven, playwright’s medium. Less visual, less metaphoric, less uncanny, more psychological. I think that my beginning works were all physical, Grotowski-based, Jungian, pulling heavily from the unconscious and have been described as “jungle”, “Gypsy”. I think the great divide, the differences between theater practices have presented a positive challenge for me to develop less expressive but more grounded, cerebral work. It has been a good lesson. I talk about some pieces I created such as Grotowski piece “I Want a Penis” in Wild Child In The City.
WBW: What theatermakers/companies inspire you?
TF: Ooooh, I remember when I saw Needcompany’s Lobster Shop and it blew my socks off. Also: last year’s Andrew Ondrejcak ‘s YOU US WE ALL presented at New Wave; Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show; the winner of the Avignon Festival Germinal, spotted at Under The Radar; and Obie-winning A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes. I do love Slovenian theater still! I try to follow it, go see it when I’m back and I always go to LaMaMa, when Ivica Buljan and Mini Teater bring a show from Slovenia. I feel very fortunate to be working with the company (Mini Teater, directed by Mare Bulc) on an international devised play The Promised Land which will be created this fall partly in Sweden and partly in Slovenia.
WBW: Tell me about working with director Ana Margineanu.
TF: I have been looking for a director like her all my life. She is the light at the end of the tunnel. She is a great conceptual thinker. She is sure handed but sensitive. Ana is disciplined and hardworking and loves the extremes just like me. She works with images, imagination and abstract directing, truly “European”. Every detail is important and she never leaves me hanging with “I don’t know or you decide.” A present, phenomenal, whole-hearted director. I adore her.
WBW: You’re putting up your piece at Theaterlab. What excites you about working there?
TF: What doesn’t? The women running this place, the gorgeous white theater, the location, and the excellence of Theaterlab’s taste. I feel sheer gratitude and and extremely humbled to be chosen to be presented here!
I have never seen anything presented by Theaterlab that hasn’t been compelling, emotionally stirring, visually delicious and with some foreign charisma. I think Theaterlab brings out the best from both of the worlds; New York theater meets European theater.
For more information and tickets for Wild Child in the City, visit HERE.