Interview by Madryn McCabe
I had the chance to talk to Susan Freedman, performer and creator of her one woman show, Spilling Family Secrets, an intimate retelling of her parents’ 80 year love story.
MM: Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your show?
SF: It’s a show about my parents 80 year old love letters and their love story. I also talk about my own marital misadventures and about my daughter’s marriage too. Family secrets are revealed!
MM: Why do you want your audiences to hear and see such personal stories?
SF: If people relate my stories to themselves and their lives in some way, then they feel connected to what’s happening onstage. The hope is that they will feel connected to my story. This is my fourth Fringe show and all of them have been filled with personal stories. I’m not a particularly forthcoming person in “real life” but I don’t find it difficult to be open on stage. And, of course, any personal issues or revelations onstage have been resolved long-ago in my real life.
MM: You tell your parents’ love story while intermingling yours’ and your daughter’s love stories as well. Why not just tell your parents’ story? Why was it important to include three generations?
SF: We are all affected by our parents so greatly and I was certainly affected by how easy my parents made marriage look. My daughter’s caution was, in large part, due to how difficult I made marriage look. I could have made the show just about my parents but I felt it showed how we’re shaped by our parents to do it this way. And – there are only so many letters you can read onstage!
MM: Why do you think your mother gave you these love letters after so many decades?
SF: She gave me the letters because she thought I had already read them. And she knew I was very interested in them. I had really just read a couple of them. I tell myself she was aware of what I might do with them. But I’m not at all sure of that.
MM: Have you edited or fictionalized any parts of the letters or stories?
SF: I edited the letters a great deal. When I transcribed them they filled 75 pages – single spaced type. Not great for a Fringe show – or for theatre at all. I fictionalized absolutely nothing. All stories and letters are completely true.
MM: Have you learned anything new about your parents after reading all their love letters? What surprised you? How has it affected you?
SF: I learned so much from reading the letters. They were written mostly when my parents were from 19 to 25 years old. What a joy to get to know your parents before they were your parents! I was surprised by what an incredible romantic my father was. The love letters made me laugh and cry. They still do.
MM: What has been the reaction from your family members?
SF: The family members who have seen it are very, very happy with it. My sister will have seen it five times during my Toronto run! My brother hasn’t seen it yet, but will when it gets to Winnipeg.
MM: What kinds of reactions have you been getting from your audiences?
SF: They seem to be completely engaged in the show and very touched by the story. They laugh throughout the show and many people tell me they are teary at the end.
MM: Anything else you’d like us to know?
SF: I love doing this show. I’m the only one, other than my parents, who has read the letters so I feel privileged to be able to share parts of them. I’ll send my family the transcriptions at the end of this Fringe season.
Spilling Family Secrets
Presented by GoodSide Productions as part of the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival
Where: The Tarragon Solo Room
July 02 at 06:30 PM
July 04 at 04:45 PM
July 05 at 06:45 PM
July 06 at 02:45 PM
July 08 at 03:15 PM
July 09 at 04:45 PM
July 11 at 03:30 PM
July 12 at 08:00 PM
Show length: 45min.
This performance is not accessible for non-English speakers
Twitter: Susan Freedman @BeachAcre16