Four years ago actress Carolyn Thomas left Halifax to get away from the narcissists in her life and moved to Nanaimo in search of a fresh start.
Around that time she was “working through some stuff” and had an idea for a new one-woman show that drew from her own history while aiming to help others with similar experiences. She was also hoping to get back into acting, so when submissions opened for the 2019 Nanaimo Fringe Festival, Thomas, a two-time Halifax Fringe performer, put forth Narcissistic B*tch (the Musical). She started writing it the moment her name was drawn.
“I’ve been doing a lot more risk taking this year and I thought, ‘OK, well I’ve got the idea, I know what I want to do, I know it would be a 40-minute show. Let’s put it in,” she said.
In the play, Thomas plays the facilitator of a support group for survivors of narcissism and she uses flashbacks and songs to tell her character’s story and why she’s trying to help others.
Thomas said she’s “not terribly musical,” and that Narcissistic B*tch is “not like what you expect a musical to be.”
“The whole point of a musical is you erupt into song when the feelings are too strong just to be talking about them anymore,” she said. “And I think this is a hot topic and it suited music. It needed music to [make] it bigger.”
Thomas said she hopes audience members are willing to share their own experiences as well and become a part of the show themselves.
“When I was in the Fringe festivals I went to a lot of shows as well and I thought the nice thing about solo shows is engaging with the audience, the ability to connect to the audience,” she said. “And I want to bring that in.”
Thomas said she’s been running some of her material by friends for feedback, but notes, “You get too much feedback and you’re not going to take the risks you were going to take doing it just the way you wanted, right?”
Thomas will be donating some proceeds from the production to Nanaimo’s Haven Society, a group she used to work for that supports women and children experiencing domestic abuse. She said that while her playis a comedy, it’s still bringing attention to a serious issue and she hopes to comfort those who have been affected.
WHAT’S ON ... The Nanaimo Fringe Festival free preview takes place at Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., on Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. Festival continues through Aug. 17. Ticket $12, festival pass $50. Must purchase $5 membership button. Tickets available here.