As I embark on the last night of this Ottawa run of Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist I am reflective about this journey. Not just the journey of the play, but also my life. The two are not separate but rather one is an art form created from the journey of the other.
When I first wrote this show, I felt relieved. I felt like a huge burden had been taken off my mind. I spat it all out in one night, really it was just making sense of the last twenty years, making sense of my attempt to be a grown up. I found I did not have to embellish on any of my life experiences because as an old colleague once said of me “you’ve lived Jenn, you’ve lived”.
After it was written, a young lady from the Algonquin Scriptwriting program helped me edit it. Firstly she cringed when she saw the format; it was basically just a bunch of paragraphs on my paper. She formatted it and made it look like a script. I am thankful for this! As I got closer to performing it, I held a focus group with some friends. This was hard, the first time I had said the words out loud to someone besides my husband. Would they judge me? Would it suck? I was worried and scared, but went and did it anyway and was glad I did. They enjoyed the story and gave me helpful feedback on staging and other theatre and voice type things that I did not know.
I then drove to Regina, SK where I performed the show for the first time in public. A friend of mine helped produce it there and got some people out to watch. It went well, and there was a woman in the audience who suffered from the same disorder as me and cried throughout. I had been worried at that time that my play may trigger people. I worried about it, but then decided if I wanted to be an artist, eliciting feelings from people was a good thing. I still put a mental health warning on the show, because I’m ethical like that.
Then I performed it for a run in Saskatoon and loved it. I had old friends come out, new friends come out and more. I had people who knew me back when I had that breakdown in El Paso Texas who I thought would hate the play but they loved it; they said they had never looked at how their religion and mental health didn’t always go together.
I came back home and played it once in Ottawa. I had my good friends attend and really that was it but the point is people came and watched. I became closer to Susan Murphy, PR specialist who believed in me and my show so much she became my publicist. Through her I received great coverage on this show, and enjoyed the media attention. Not just because I like attention (though I do!) but because it was people taking an interest in my show about my life. There are not enough people talking about mental health issues, and breaking the stigma of women and mental health.
So as I embark on tonight’s finale, I am left thinking what to do next? Well, firstly I still have my 24 items to work on for this year, to achieve total health I need to focus on more than just my art form! Then I have a fringe show in June with two gal pals, and we may have procrastinated a bit, so that will be work! Then I have always known what I want, which is to write a book based on the play based on my life. I don’t know how it will turn out, but I plan on making Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist into a book and I am excited. The potential exists and really, I never thought people would enjoy my show but poof, they did.
So thank you to everyone who has supported the show from it’s inception to now. I look forward to continuing my career in entertainment, and will always keep reaching for the start. Whether I am successful or not, I will never look back on my life and wonder what could have been.
Thanks for listening!