Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The production, Uprooted, will be appearing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this summer. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Vanessa Boss: Uprooted is a one-woman show where we embark on a fantastical and heartfelt journey to find home. Growing up, my family moved every few years to international destinations: Hong Kong, Buffalo, Shanghai, Luxembourg…just to name a few! My upbringing was full of adventure but there were also struggles, adjusting to new schools and not having control of where home was. I play 40 different characters, many of which are fantasy characters, representing different parts of myself: Elda, the elder tree (my inner wisdom), Nerva (anxiety), Puddle (emotions, sadness), Froggy (the frog in my throat), and some evil characters like Anastasia (my eating disorder) and Tormentra (my inner tormentor/critic). These are just a few of the characters that lead the journey and say things that Vanessa herself, may be too afraid to say. With the audience, we take a flight back in time in Vanessa's life to remind her of her strength. Vanessa faces the memories, secrets and adventures that have defined her to remind her of what she's capable of. Together we explore themes of finding home, eating disorder recovery, self love and finding your voice. It is a story packed with adventure, vulnerability, connection, and courage.
BD: As the writer and solo performer of the show, what inspired the creation of this project?
VB: Uprooted needed to be a solo show for many reasons. I felt a strong desire to share my story and to be seen as my true self. There is so much going on in my inner world and that inspired the fantastical world I've created in this story. Having felt a lack of control of where home was growing up, there was no better vehicle to tell my story than a flight! I play a peppy flight attendant and a pilot, there’s even a high security section on board for the more menacing characters! I tell my eating disorder recovery journey in a chapter of the show and playing my eating disorder is an opportunity for me to help other people affected by eating disorders and give voice to an experience that is often kept hidden. Vulnerability in life for real heartfelt connection is something I've always been passionate about. This show creates a community by acknowledging the audience, that we all have inner worlds that need to be nurtured. Having moved so much, I've dealt with a lot of social anxiety, so I understand what it feels like to not feel seen. Fears can create a lot of walls, and I knew that telling my story would be an important step in me growing into the woman I'm meant to be. The show is about emerging as your true self and the audience goes on that journey with me.
BD: What can you tell us about your creative process in bringing Uprooted to life, in light of interactive nature of the show?
VB: The creative process of Uprooted has been really fun! With so many fantasy characters, discovering who they are and their voices has been one of the great highlights in the process. These characters are real parts of me and they love to come out and play in the show! The fantasy characters love to interact with the audience, they speak directly to them throughout the show. The audience connection was really important to me in the creation of Uprooted, because I wanted to create something that could be a shared experience. I want the audience to feel seen and to grow as well by going on this journey with me.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
VB: I hope that audiences walk away from Uprooted feeling seen, discovering new parts of themselves, learning that speaking your truth is incredibly healing and important to grow. I also want them to know that home comes from feeling at peace within yourself. Whether or not there is a physical place they call home, their hearts are always the place they can fall back on. I also think that the show is really important for anyone who has experienced an eating disorder or their friends/family, because it gives an insight into what that experience is like but also the process of healing, growing stronger and freeing yourself from the voices in your head. The characters/thoughts that are not you.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival the best venue for Uprooted?
VB: The Hollywood Fringe Festival is so exciting, because there are so many unique and original works. Uprooted will be at The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood in Lounge 2 which is a fantastic space that’s intimate but also has the ability to use multimedia. There is an airline safety video in Uprooted that I filmed using a green screen; it's one of my favorite additions to the show! The Hollywood Fringe is such a wonderful opportunity to share my show with a wider audience and to see some other inventive shows as well.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Lounge Theatre from June 7-29, 2019. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
VB: There are definitely plans to do future shows at other venues across LA. I am currently exploring where to take it next. I definitely want to create a workshop that can be paired with the show where we explore character to give voice to the parts of ourselves we keep hidden. I’m also making plans to bring it to eating disorder recovery centers as well. I see doing a tour of the show at some point. Maybe bring it to NYC or Atlanta. There are many possibilities in the works. I'm even thinking about turning it into an animated film!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
VB: Focusing on Fringe for now, but there is much in the works for the future of this show.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Uprooted?
VB: Uprooted is adventurous, heartfelt, vulnerable, funny, and magical! It's an interactive show that will keep you on your toes with many twists and turns. I've loved immersing myself into the world of Uprooted, and I think you will, too!