The Thing About Fat

So I’m producing Universally Speaking – a series of five monologues at the Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham from 13th – 17th October (next week!). One of the pieces is mine and they were originally going to be produced at the Ideas Tap Festival this year but then Ideas Tap went bust. D’oh. I got in touch with Simon Jay, who was asked to direct the pieces, and he agreed that the show must go on. And it is! The venue is booked, the actors are rehearsing, the tickets are selling and we’ve even got a mistress of ceremonies to guide the audience through the night’s entertainment. On top of that the proceeds will go to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Mind, the mental health charity.

As for my piece – it’s all about fat. A lone woman sits in her car outside Tescos and ponders her relationship with food – she loves it, she loves all kinds of it – crisps, cakes, chocolate, marmite, bread rolls, tomatoes, ham, pork pies – the lot. She even loves mixing food and sex (who wouldn’t?). Although she’s a bit worried about her health because the doctors tell her she’s an ‘over-eater’ and that she weighs too much. She’s also fed up of the looks she gets in the supermarket aisles and the things people say about her behind her back. So the piece is part ode to food, part angry rant, part call for help, and part many other things. But I won’t give anymore away!

One of the inspirations for the piece is my fascination with the tendency we have to hold individual’s responsible for their actions – we can be so quick to blame and vilify people for the things they do, without stopping to contextualise their behaviour. Context is so important in explaining why people do what they do but we often ignore it. An example of context would be the consumerist nature of our culture – it relies on ever-increasing rates of consumption (our economy has to keep growing in order to function) which means more people spending more money on more stuff. One profitable avenue is the snack food industry that has perfected the art of selling unhealthy yet exceptionally tasty stuff to people. There are actually scientists out there tasked with coming up with the perfect ratio of salt:sugar in a crisp as well as its level of crunch and the speed at which it dissolves in the mouth. There’s a reason that once you’ve popped a tube of Pringles you can’t stop – they’re designed to be addictive. So the thing about fat is that it’s not one thing – it takes many forms (in crisps and cakes, in the human body) and forms part of so many different networks be they cultural, biological, political, economic or historical. Fat has a very big context.

So, 13th – 17th October 7.30 – 9pm at the Bread & Roses Theatre – my piece, aptly titled Fat, is one of five monologues that explores the darker dimensions of the 21st century. We got through the noughties and now we’re in the 2010s (teens, teenies, tens?) and one thing’s for sure, the 21st century is an odd place to be – often quite scary, sometimes very funny but occasionally lipsmackingly tasty (get your tickets here).

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