"We hope next time they sit down to have a meal and they look up to see who’s seating with them, they appreciate the simple and beautiful moments we share with people we care about."
1st Springboard: FESTIVAL FOR EMERGING ARTISTS
29 March - 23 April, 2022
Eating Myself is a powerful and vulnerable female exploration about food, the kitchen, and looking after oneself as a woman. A communal experience through cooking on stage, while digging into the performer’s deep fight around body image, self-care, and family. This is a show with South American flavour, that will take audiences back to their cultural roots and question how different we really are.
Hey Pepa & Sergio, thank you for talking with The New Current, how is everything been going?
Sergio Maggiolo (Director): Thank you! Weather is getting nicer and theatre are re-opening, so feeling quite blessed and happy to be here.
Eating Myself is set to run at The King’s Head Theatre as part of SPRINGBOARD 2022, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing line up of theatre?
It is a privilege to be presenting live work in the current times. We love being part of a festival like this, it makes us feel there are other creatives teams fighting for the same, a sense of community and shared passion. Being part of London’s theatre re-opening is amazing.
With the cancelling of VAULT Festival this year how essential are opportunities like SPRINGBOARD for new theatre?
Pepa Duarte (Writer): It’s amazing how several venues and organizations have come together to support the artists who were part of VAULT this year. After being off stage for 2 years, the hunger and creative potential of new artists is huge and bravo to the theatres that are supporting us.
You had an amazing response to Eating Myself with The Guardian saying that ‘What gives the show its unique power is an overt and audacious theatricality’, what has meant to be able to revisit this production?
We are really grateful for the response we had so far. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to run the show in front of a live audience at that time so revisiting it now feels like something we’ve been waiting for a long time. The multi-sensory experience that we propose in the play includes smells, taste and the communal act of sharing food and stories. It was difficult to translate it to the screen, so we’re incredibly excited to experience the reaction of the audience live!
What has it meant to you to be able to revisit this production, will much change since the last time you started Eating Myself?
Pepa: The soul of the piece remains the same, although we as people have changed throughout this experience, so it’s interesting to discover the re-significance of certain aspects of the show like self-love, hunger and the sense of satisfaction.
Can you tell me a little bit about how Eating Myself came about, what was the inspiration behind your play?
Pepa: I knew I had been having a pretty intense and complicated relationship with dieting and at the beginning of the process I thought that’s what I wanted to talk about but it ends up being so much more. As I was writing I realised this was much more than an issue with “losing weight” I needed to talk about the relationship women have with their bodies, the immense pressure around gender roles and ultimately how that creates a constant fight against food. And food is something that in my culture, but I believe that in any culture, connects deeply with our ancestors and wisdom and nourishment. Ultimately, I understood that all this that seemed to be so individualistic was actually something that most of women I knew were experiencing is just we didn’t talk about it amongst ourselves. The play hopes to create a shared experience with the audience, we are all discovering what the relationship we have with eating and cooking actually means.
Sergio: what was it about Pepa’s play that interested you so much as a director?
Pepa and I have collaborated together several times, but when she told me she wanted to do a show about food and womanhood in Latin America something clicked. Pepa is a fighter. Her passion and sensibility for social issues is inspiring, so I knew it was important to give a platform to her lived experience and point of view. Women in Latin America have to fight a lot: for respect, for safety, even for their survival. If someone is able to convey that with beautiful artistry and craft, that is Pepa.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced bringing Eating Myself to life?
We had an amazing team of mostly migrant creatives. But as with every other production in these past two years we had to change our plans many, many times because of Covid. We had several cancellations and re-programmings. We even though it might never come back on stage, but we are so happy that we decided to give another push and Springboard took us along, it really makes us feel there is a hunger for stories like these.
Do you allow much flexibility with your text/performance once a show is running? How important is the creative relationship between a playwright and a director?
Pepa: I don’t think I could have done this play without Sergio, our shared cultural experience is crucial for the show in many ways. The importance of food and family in Peruvian society and the gender inequality and violence against women (both over there and everywhere else in the world).
Sergio: We come from a tradition where play is the most important thing. If we’re not having fun telling this story, there is no point. We’ve always given ourselves the flexibility to change, fail and re-work bits of the play. I love the freedom when you know you’re creating something new and nothing is off limits.
Where did your passion for theatre come from and how much has your approach to your work changed since you started out?
Pepa: I started doing improvisation when I was a teenager. That was out of chance, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity and I discovered right there I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. The love for stories and the passion for trying things out and failing in the process is still present in my work. I quickly realised I wanted to integrate movement to what I did. So physical theatre is always part of what I do. Since I started creating my own work it’s always been political and from a very personal perspective.
I also started doing theatre quite young, and for me it’s always been the people I met working that held me there. Theatre people are my favourite, we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t love it to the core. And I wish more people did what they love.
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given and is there any advice or tips you would offer any emerging playwright or director?
Pepa: Although I had never considered myself a writer, I had always written. I had this intense feeling inside of me that I needed to tell this story so I just began to write.
I learned to take risks and play, play, play I think that’s my advice. There’s no right and wrong, just try. Try and see what happens, it is the only way. AND surround yourself with the right people, listen and give each other space to grow together.
Sergio: Give your ideas the time they need to grow and develop. Nothing great will be achieved in 45 minutes. And if you love it, stick to it. It’ll take time but oh my, it’ll be worth it.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Eating Myself?
We hope they feel seen, we hope they go thinking about their families and what they're gonna cook for them. We hope it is a first step into healing and forgiving others and oneself. We hope next time they sit down to have a meal and they look up to see who’s seating with them, they appreciate the simple and beautiful moments we share with people we care about.