One Yellow Rabbit presents an all-new play about pathos; the “unshakable monster that is guilt,” and the things we’re not supposed to talk about in the Big Secret Theatre this October for four darkly funny nights.
Guilt is Canadian comedy legend Diane Flacks’ one-woman show about a self-sacrificing Jewish mother experiencing a midlife crisis, who blows up her own marriage.
It marks the return of Flacks to the stage in a one-woman performance for the first time in 10 years. We sat down with star Diane Flacks to find out more.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your production?
"I was a self-sacrificing mother, who initiated a divorce and found myself incapacitated by guilt, and I looked around and realized that divorcing women in media were either presented as 'the evil other woman' or the one-who-was-betrayed, victim. And I wasn’t either of those and felt like there was a perspective to be told. Any time in life that I witness or feel overwhelmed by an experience, it becomes good fodder for art. Because you are never alone in battling demons in life, and audiences can relate and need to share those experiences through art. It is rare to see a midlife crisis depicted through a woman’s eyes."
Can you tell us about the character you play and their backstory?
"I’m basically playing a heightened and more hapless version of myself. A good-girl, monogamous, devoted mom, who loses her mind in a midlife crisis and explodes her life. I figure, if that is something that could happen to me, that I could do, then digging deep into the difficult moments of divorce and midlife crisis will be interesting (and hopefully funny and relatable) to people. I enjoy telling stories about things that drive us crazy, that we all experience in one way or another, and that people really don’t want us (especially women) to talk about. This fits that bill."
What do you love about Calgary?
"Calgary is so beautiful. I love walking through the East Village or along the river. The audiences for One Yellow Rabbit shows have been gritty, smart, open. It’s a fantastically artistic city and there is so much theatre happening! OYR is one of the most consistently exciting and brilliant theatre companies in the world and I’m thrilled to be associated with them."
Why should audiences come see your show?
"We all struggle with being torn between feeling guilty, or resentful for feeling guilty, or unsure of how to deal with complex and ugly feelings: fear, regret, shame, guilt. My goal is to make these moments funny, relatable and authentic, without pulling punches. I hope people leave feeling seen and heard and willing to tackle their own deep fears and feelings. Because there is no way out of tough times in life, ya just gotta get through them."
You have a popular CBC radio National parenting column. What is it like being a Mom right now? Do you take inspiration from your family?
My eldest is in the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He taught himself music over the pandemic! And it’s wild to be writing this right now from his old bedroom - now my office that I do NOT want to give up! And my beautiful youngest is entering Grade 10, with his spirit in tact! It’s tough to be a parent getting through this global shitshow that we’re in. And climate change and their future is terrifying in a way that mine certainly wasn’t. Also, the screen and social media ubiquity is a truly intense force in their lives that we parents really can’t control. It's all about balance. Balance that shit with real moments, nature, art, love.
You are connected to so many incredible Canadian film and television shows. Can you share one of your favourite funny or inspiring moments from working on any of those?
Recently I did a sketch with the Kids in the Hall for their Amazon reboot, with my buddy Bruce McCulloch, one of your uber Calgary artists, and one of my best friends. I could not believe how many women and specifically women of colour were behind the scenes on set. Grips, Lighting, directors, AD’s. It was so inspiring and made me really hopeful for the future.
Do you have a favourite memory about One Yellow Rabbit or the High Performance Rodeo?
I saw a workshop performance of Gilgamesh when I was in Calgary after receiving the Enbridge Playwrights Award through ATP, for my play Waiting Room, about ten years ago. They were in a rehearsal hall and I was watching a run through. My mind was blown apart. And when I last attended the Rodeo, with my 3th solo show, Random Acts, also dramaturged and directed by the brilliant and luminous Alisa Palmer, my long-time collaborator, I had a BLAST. I remember being treated so well and with such un-preciousness, if that makes sense. Treated simply like a fellow artist who was down for good work and a good time. And seeing Denise Clarke do some physical work was enough to inspire my dreams for a lifetime.
What inspires you as an artist?
Cognitive dissonance in people. Injustice. Things that make me laugh out loud - even when they’re super ridiculous - or better when they’re super ridiculous. My children. My fiancé (you heard it here first), my family and brave artist friends.
What are you reading right now?
I’m re-reading MIdnight’s Children, my favourite Salman Rashdie book. Also re-reading Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald. I will be in the cast for the theatrical adaptation of this remarkable novel this coming season.
What artist or song are you rocking out to right now in the car?
Any additional final words or thoughts to share?
Huge thanks to OYR, the High Performance Rodeo and Blake, Oliver and Ryan, the three horsemen of the playpocalypse.
This all-new production, Guilt premieres at One Yellow Rabbit for four performances only. October 5 – 8, 7:30 PM, Big Secret Theatre, Arts Commons. Created and performed by Diane Flacks and directed by Alisa Palmer with sound design by Deanna H. Choi and lighting design by Leigh Ann Vardy.