Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The play, Conversations ‘Bout the Girls, is currently appearing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. What inspired you to tell this story, and how would you describe your creative process in bringing it to life?
Sonia Jackson: Eve Ensler inspired me. I was doing The Vagina Monologues, and it dawned on me that there are just as many issues regarding the breast. Maybe even more. I knew I had mine. There are so many conversations that take place about the breast that aren't necessarily supportive, positive, or enlightening, so why not create some? I had a lot of stories myself, but knew mine didn't cover everything, so I created the questionnaire and started to interview women, researched and looked at the world. I got a lot of information which was fabulous. The stories remind us how elegant and powerful we are as women.
BD: Given that this is the tenth anniversary of the show, how do you feel that it has evolved over time, and how have the stories of women’s relationships with their bodies changed (or remained the same)?
SJ: Actually, I created the original version of Conversations ‘Bout the Girls as an ensemble piece. I use a cast of 8 - 10 women, and each woman would have specific stories that they told and then also participated in other cast members' stories. The ensemble version celebrated its 10th anniversary in October of 2015. I wanted to continue doing the show but also wanted a format that would be easier to present. My director, Jessica Lynn Johnson, showed me how it could be done as a solo show, and so the solo version was born at The Hollywood Fringe Festival this year.
The play continues to evolve because we evolve. Every time I do the show, women will tell me their stories about their breasts or body and how they overcame various situations. I’ve written the play so that stories can be swapped out with new stories as they come about. Women’s relationships with their bodies are an ever-evolving thing. Changes take place as the shape of our bodies change, as medical situations arise, as we make trips around the sun, as we lay in the sun will continue to happen. Hopefully, we can always look at the beauty behind the changes.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
SJ: I think women are elegant, no matter what the job is that we do. We have walked through many fires and have accomplished a lot. I want women to remember that and that we are powerful beings. I want women to truly honor themselves and who they are, to honor our sisterhood. I want men to gain new insights about who we are and for men and women to honor and respect each other and the way we communicate. And to teach our children to do the same.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for Conversations ‘Bout the Girls?
SJ: The Hollywood Fringe Festival is a great venue for all things artistic. We get to express our works, our talents, and share them with others that we might never have met. Often as an artist, we're working independently. At The Fringe we're working independently next to 300 friends doing the same. We get to talk about what we're doing and how we're doing it, collaborate with others, be of support, and give to each other and other shows. It’s work, but it’s so much fun!
BD: The show will be appearing at The Dorie Theatre at The Complex through June 24, 2017. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
SJ: Nothing solid at the moment. I’ve been invited to San Francisco. We may be doing a staged reading of the ensemble episodic piece in October in West Hollywood.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
SJ: Conversations ‘Bout the Girls does have a Facebook page and a website (www.ConversationsBouttheGirls.com) for those who may want to know about upcoming projects.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Conversations ‘Bout the Girls?
SJ: Conversations 'Bout the Girls is a great date night or Girls Nite Out, and with tickets at $12, you won’t break the bank. But your readers can get tickets for $10 by using the "fans" code on the Fringe site and click on "Buy Tickets."