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The F Word confronts the word no one wants to say

By Sheroog Kubur, February 14 2023

Fatness is something that has always been the topic of conversation while being taboo. To this day, the word fat is so politicized that even saying it is met with hushed whispers about whether or not that’s okay to say these days. The F Word is the show that boldly explores fatness and more. The show comes from the minds of Keshia Cheesman and Bianca Miranda, two fat women of colour and seasoned performers in a Downstage production, continuing their season of shows for the people, not for learning. 

“They’re so natural together, it’s almost like they communicate telepathically with each other,” said Downstage artistic director Clare Preuss. “You still get a sense of them individually being women of colour and fat, so you get a good variety of responses for the people around them and how they respond to their bodies.”

The show explores dimensions of fatness that may be pushed aside in mainstream media. From the gentle policing of bodies from family members to the blatant sexualization and fetishism of fat women, the show covers all its bases. 

“What grows through the piece is this sense of fat liberation — we are immersed in the society that we are immersed in,” said Pruess about how the show translates these ideas to the stage. “So as much as you feel one way about your body you still have to have those conversations.”

Pruess is also the movement director for the show. She recalls cast members likening the show more to a pop concert than a theatrical production with the level of humour and performance that comes with it. This kind of show is for those wanting to inject something fresh into theatre that can sometimes feel suffocatingly uniform. 

“Keshia and Bianca wrote this piece for fat people, and everyone’s welcome to come but it’s not a play that’s meant to educate others, it’s meant to inspire,” said Preuss about the show. 

The F Word is the second show by Downstage this season, following Gender? I Hardly Know Them. It’s a show about the Queer transgender experience from that perspective. 

“Coming back from COVID and being a company that focuses on issues that are important to our society, we need all that and humour,” said Preuss about this year’s season. “We started with Gender? I Hardly Know Them and all but two tickets sold out — it was great to know that people wanted to see these shows and want to have these conversations with humour.”

The F Word will play at the Martha Cohen Theatre in Arts Commons until Feb. 19. Each show features an after-show discussion period facilitated by Preuss. Tickets start at $25 and are available through the Alberta Theatre Projects website. Downstage also offers pay-it-forward tickets at no cost and size-accessible seating up to 550 pounds available through their website. The company also offers a student ambassador program for those looking to gain additional experience and credits by volunteering in the theatre with more information available through the website as well. 

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