Jeanette Bonner is an American heading to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time with her show Love. Guts. High School. Pete Shaw asked her about the show and why she’s making the journey across the pond to bring it to an Edinburgh audience.
My fear was that I’d alienate British audiences who would assume that my show would have all these Americanisms – or worse, they’d go “What’s high school?” But I think that American culture has reached far enough that people not only know what it is, but know what it represents.
Tell us about your Edinburgh show.
My show is called Love. Guts. High School. It’s a 60-minute, semi-autobiographical piece about a teensy teenage crush that grows into a friendship-ruining obsession. Ultimately it’s about learning to love yourself more than the object of your affection, all while dealing with the craziness of high school and facing the ultimate teenage decision: losing your virginity! (And here’s the kicker: it’s all based off REAL diary entries I wrote when I was a teen. How crazy is that?!)
Love, Guts, High School did well at the Chicago Fringe Festival. Do you think UK audiences will be more of a challenge, or is the message universal?
I will be honest, one of the things that most worried me about bringing the show to the UK is right there in the title. The concept of “high school” is very American. My fear was that I’d alienate British audiences who would assume that my show would have all these Americanisms – or worse, they’d go “What’s high school?” But I think that American culture has reached far enough that people not only know what it is, but know what it represents. For Americans, it’s a very special time in one’s teenage life rife with complicated emotions, the stress of graduating and getting into college, and newfound freedoms (including getting one’s driver’s license!) amidst complicated relationships with best friends, parents, and the opposite sex. But these things are not just American – I think all of the above is a rite of passage for most teens. And love – learning the ins and outs of all that as you’re grappling with coming-of-age... that goes beyond high school. It’s the learning of love – what it is, how to do it, how it can hurt you – and that’s universal.
You worked on the show with Peter Michael Marino, who had great success with his own show Desperately Seeking The Exit over the past two Fringes. Was he an influence in your decision to bring your show to Edinburgh?
Um, I think Peter was THE reason I decided to take LGHS to Edinburgh! I worked with Peter on my show in 2012, which was the first year he took his show to the Edinburgh Fringe. I watched his incredible experience from afar, and followed his journey via Facebook. I was humbled by his bravery in taking his one-man show by himself to a foreign country to perform for free. I listened when he came home and told me the stories of other performers he met, and what an incredible community of theatermakers he performed amongst. Peter believes in the power of Edinburgh so whole-heartedly it’s contagious. In December 2013 he hosted a workshop for people in New York who were interested in taking their show over. He filled us with the most thorough amount of information, and from that seminar I went from thinking “Maybe” to “I-Think-I-Gotta-Do-This” in just a few hours. In fact, I just met with him the other day, and the excitement he now has for me to do my show this summer is palpable. Peter is the poster child for Edinburgh success, because Edinburgh “success” can be defined in so many wonderful ways.
The US fringe scene has a very supportive social media community. Has that been useful to you in developing your show?
I’m not sure it’s been influential in helping me develop my show, but in planning and prepping for what’s next – absolutely. One of the most significant forums for me as a solo artist has been a Facebook group called Solo Show Artists Unite. One is the loneliest number – especially when putting on a show! There I’ve connected with a WORLD of solo show performers who are all looking to help and support one another. It is the reason I’ve been able to continue on with the show the way that I have. I will also say that there is a US to Edinburgh Facebook group, and it’s been amazing. Look, I live in one of the most competitive cities in the world for actors. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have actors and performers all looking out for each other, giving each other tips, secrets, “insider” info, etc. I think this is a testament to the magic of Edinburgh Fringe: it attracts the most interesting, fascinating, and just plain AWESOME performers worldwide.
There, I finally squeezed in some American high school language! And there’s more where that came from!
Love. Guts. High School
Sweet Venues – International 3
31 July - 24 August (not the 11th or 18th) |16:00 – 17.00 (60 minutes)