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"The Play's The Thing"...Jennifer Jonassen Interviews Director Kym Pappas and Actress Carla Nell, 9/01/2008
fat pig by neil labutte, Kym Pappas, Carla Nell
Meet Jennifer Jonassen

When I first moved west from New York, I was fortunate enough to spend some time doing theatre in San Diego. From the bigger professional houses such as the Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse to the dozens of smaller venues, San Diego is practically teeming with theatrical life!  Two of these theatres (Inner Mission Theatre & Onstage Playhouse) are co-producing  Neil LaBute's provocative play: Fat Pig  which was first produced Off-Broadway by  MCC theatre (and ironically at my old stomping ground: The Lucille Lortel Theatre where I worked for many years!)
Thanks to the artistry and courage of  these two powerful women, San Diego is getting it's premiere of this timely and important play. I recently had the chance to chat with director Kym Pappas and her leading lady Carla Nell to hear their perspectives on this controversial production and topic. If you are anywhere near southern California I urge you to see this production. Knowing Kym and Carla, it is certainly worth the gas to get to experience this play.
Jennifer: Tell us a little bit about the play Fat Pig.
Kym: Fat Pig is a love story contaminated by society and all of its definitions of who we are supposed to be and what we want.
Carla: Fat Pig is a play by Neil LaBute that doesn't kid glove people's perceptions of Fat People.  Tom and Helen are the central characters and Carter and Jeannie are the work friends who influence or maybe remind Tom that it isn't ok to date a fat woman..
Jennifer: The title makes me cringe. How does it affect you? 
Carla: The title is shocking.  It's meant to be.  Kym has said that fat is the last accepted prejudice and the title just puts it out there with no apologies.  I think it is a great way to introduce the audience to the unforgiving nature of this play and its take on how society views heavier people.
Kym: I think that the title does exactly what it is supposed to do. It makes you take notice, it makes you question, it makes you pay attention. If even for a split second, when you read the title, you are involved.
Jennifer: What drew you to the play as a director Kym?
Kym: I heard about the play when it opened off Broadway. Initially I was drawn to it because there was a woman like myself cast as the love interest. Generally if you are a woman and an actor and you weigh more then 120 pounds you are cast as the best friend, the sister, the villain, the mother ... never the love interest. I suppose it happens once in awhile but it is definitely not the standard, as a matter of fact it is virtually unheard of. I read the play in one sitting and when I was done I threw it across the room. It caused me to have not only an emotional reaction but a physical one as well; at that moment I knew I had to be a part of it somehow.
Jennifer: Carla, what drew you to Fat Pig as an actress? 
Carla: Kym brought me the script and after I read it I knew I had to do it.  I was drawn to the honesty of the play..  The character Helen asks Tom repeatedly to be honest with her.  I believe she really wants Tom to feel comfortable with her weight and she carries that burden of his discomfort until it becomes her own.  I wanted to tell that story and I like brutal honest writing.
Jennifer: What has your experience directing it been? Any surprises or challenges?
Kim: The biggest challenge has been the intimacy. And I am not just talking about the physical intimacy. I have been blessed with a group of actors who are all open on an emotional level; we have spent a lot of time talking about our own experiences in relationships, our own experiences in life ... in our personal skin. But asking them to sit on stage and go there, to create a space where they can trust themselves and each other with such raw emotion and revelations has been difficult. The most rewarding thing has been seeing this cast follow their instincts, they teach me things about these characters on a daily basis, they do things I never even thought of or expected and I think they're brilliant.



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