by Susan Gill
The 2016 Rogue Festival is almost here. KRL has been featuring several Festival performer preview articles the last couple of weeks, and still have more to go including three in this issue! This week we also have an article about the Festival itself. We will also be reviewing many of the shows once the Festival begins in early March, and we may even do some more video interviews. Check out our Rogue Performer event page for more information as it becomes available, and you can also check out the Rogue 2016 website.
Is Your Therapist Near A Bakery? started out as a funny story I told at a birthday roast for my son on his 24th birthday. Considering that my father was a serial suicide attempter, who “had the urge, but not the talent for suicide,” my sister had a borderline personality that always wandered over the border, and my brother’s story is too dark to tell until the end of the show, the humor throughout the piece is surprising and welcomed. The audience cries a little knowing a laugh will arrive in the next minute.
By talking with candor, tenderness, and wry wit about these serious problems which lie hidden in so many of our families, I hope to help break the silence and shame that surround mental illness.
This saga of my childhood family and my children’s family, covers two distinct eras and locales: the traditional post-war 1950s in a Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, where “the only gentile kid was a Japanese boy who after attending fifty bar mitzvahs could dance a mean Hora,” and the very non-traditional 1970s in Berkeley and Oakland, California, where kids bring plastic models of a uterus to Show and Tell in kindergarten.
Along the way, I satirize popularity and cliques in high school, beauty contests, marriages that last three weeks, and those wonderfully verbal children of Berkeley, California. People tell me that they leave the show still laughing and also with much they want to talk and think about. How the male dominated social systems affected girls who went to high school before the second wave of feminism and how things have changed and not changed. How the child who survives mental illness in her family grows into an adult. How culture and ethnicity affect what is defined as a problem and how those problems are treated. How silence isolates while laughter and honesty can heal.
The story behind the story is also important to me. For thirty years I had a valuable and fulfilling career as a community college English teacher at Chabot College in Hayward, CA. In retirement, I volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for youth in foster care and spent delicious time with my grandchildren, but I wanted to do something in the arts. My friends were taking up hula, ballroom dance, and flamenco or singing in choirs, but I can’t dance or sing. One night, I was at a dinner party, and one of the guests wanted to rehearse a solo show for us. As I was watching him, I knew that I had found my outlet.
I took a chance and signed up for a class at the Marsh San Francisco. I took my little funny story, and with the help of my brilliant and encouraging teacher, David Ford, I turned it into a piece that I began to perform at the Marsh student shows.
One night, just like in the movies, a producer was in the audience and asked me to perform in the Solo Sundays series in the Mission in San Francisco. Since then, I have performed at many Solo Sunday shows, Monday Night Marsh, and Tell It On Tuesdays. I said yes to an opportunity, and two-years later, I am debuting my one-woman show at the Rogue. By following Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to “…do something that scares you a little every day,” at sixty-seven years old, I have found a second wonderful career, and I am part of a supportive and creative community. I want people to be inspired by my story to say yes to the opportunities in their lives.
The show will be performing at at the Fulton St. Art, 1118 N. Fulton Street, Fresno, CA. Tickets are $5 at the door.
Performance Dates & Times:
Saturday, March 5 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 6 8:15 p.m.
Tuesday, March 9 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 12 3:00 p.m.