Lee-Anne Poole didn’t know what she was writing two weeks before her Atlantic Fringe Festival play opened at Emotion Picture Gallery Friday. She had only a title, Short Skirt Butch, and a blank screen.
“I thought it would be good for me to see what I could come up with in a tight deadline, without a starting concept or idea,” says Poole. “The title came out of a conversation I had a year ago. Making fun of terms, and terms I don’t really like for myself even though they might seem to fit me – bisexual, femme and short skirt butch came out of that conversation as a solution.”
With only a month to write the play from start to finish, Poole had decided on the title and knew that it would be a short one-act, one-person show.
Directed by Bryden MacDonald, Short Skirt Butch stars Stephanie MacDonald, who starred in Poole’s previous Plutonium Playhouse productions Splinters and The Obedients. Reflecting on the strict deadline, Poole says she found starting without a point of inspiration difficult. The exercise certainly stretched her writer muscles.
Tragic, confessional and a touch delusional, Jean (Stephanie MacDonald), whose identity has become wrapped up in a failed triad relationship, is equal parts desperate and hilarious.
“The audience can expect a concise and fast-paced one-person show following Jean, one year after her first queer triad relationship ended,” Poole says. “Jean takes us through how she dealt with that breakup – pretty badly. She goes a little crazy, obsessed, stalks them and takes it a little further than that. She’s funny, naive and horribly heartbroken.”
Poole found herself fascinated with the notion of a queer triad; the possibilities of the dynamic intrigued her. She wanted to see her character through a horrible heartbreak, to examine how the couple negotiates breaking it off with her.
Why butch? “Well, it’s short skirt butch because Jean’s finding it hard to reconcile herself with being more feminine, being gender normative and not really feeling like a lady – like a lady, lady – while at the same time having a preference for some feminine things: longer hair, short skirts.”
In her confessional monologue, Jean says, “I love femmes. But I hate femme, I’m not one. I’m gross, I spit. I take much less time getting ready than most of the butches I know. I’m not really sure what masculinity or feminity is, but – and maybe this is just a little lady phobia on my part – but I don’t like being a lady. Like a lady, lady. Short skirt butch.”
In her first solo show, MacDonald holds her own. Her delivery is strong, her performance bold. A one-person show rests heavily on the actor’s shoulders. If a line is missed, there’s no one else to blame, and there’s no one to pick up the pieces. It’s a learning curve MacDonald overcomes.
“For Jean, since she is very unapologetic and really trying to take control of the situation, she needed to be a character that was very much stand and deliver,” says MacDonald. “I really worked on making her feel in control and grounded. She knows what she went there to do, and at times, is awkward.”
Short Skit Butch
320 Lisgar St.