The National Women's Theatre Festival

WTF Wednesday TAKEOVER: 3 Reasons to Fall In Love with Freakshow

Greetings WTFers!

This week for WTF Wednesday, the Freakshow production team is taking over to tell you why you should come \”Fall In Love With Freakshow\” on February 14th!  The event, sponsored by Michael David Winery/Freakshow Wines and HQ Raleigh, takes place at HQ Raleigh\’s Gateway Location, 2411 Crabtree Blvd, from 6:30-8:30pm. Attendees can enjoy a glass of wine, nibble on chocolate, and learn more about the world of this fascinating play!


WTF invites you to fall in love with Freakshow feb 14.png

“Fall in Love with Freakshow” is happening for so many reasons! The idea started as a way to tell folks about the show. It’s a challenging piece, and many people—including those of us working on it—have had questions about its portrayal of women and of people with disabilities. It kind of makes you ask, “WTF?!” This event is a way to engage in that conversation with our Triangle audience prior to the show.

Reason #1 to Fall in Love:  Freakshow is about love!

It’s about the sacrifices we make so that those we love can be free. That seems like a pretty good tie-in with a February 14th event, no?! What is love? How do we show love for each other? Can love exist in and amongst the dark aspects of humanity?

On the surface, Freakshow is full of ugliness, exploitation, and manipulation. This play is uncomfortable and at times grotesque. It feels a bit like turning over a stone and looking at the teeming, unsettling life that lies underneath—and that’s the point. The ugliness doesn’t always lie with the “freaks,” though. It also lies with those of us—aka most of us—who are drawn to stare at them.  

This is a play that gets under your skin. It draws you in and pushes you away simultaneously. That’s what sets it up to be such an incredible piece of theater. That’s also why we wanted to start introducing Triangle audiences to it well before the production in May. And also we love you!  (…see what we did there!? #NotYourUsualValentinesDay #BestValentinesDayEver #FreeWine!)


Reason #2 to Fall in Love:  The history is fascinating!

The Freakshow team also has an amazing dramaturg—what’s up, Lydia!—working with us and her research is super cool. History of turn-of-the-century freakshows? Check.

History of disabled ‘outcasts’ banding together? Check. Humanistic examination of the disabilities that the Freakshow characters live with? Check.


the woman with no arms or legs is the main character in the play Freakshow


example of old timey sideshow ad

 It seems crazy to just keep all that info internal—we should get everyone in on that! 


Reason #3 to Fall in Love: We\’re doing things differently!

Bye-bye hierarchical and patriarchal top-down directing! Hello uber-powerful directing team: Rachel Nunn & Rowen Haigh, co-directors, with Ruth Berry, assistant director. We’re sharing the workload, the decision-making, and (let’s be honest) the pressure! We’re challenging each others’ ideas and valuing each others’ boundaries. We’re cultivating a team approach and creating a space where every member of the design and production team can contribute to both the creative and logistical shape of the show. 

Rachel, who has been directing and AD’ing since 2016, had plenty of questions when she was first invited to co-direct. She worried that without a clear hierarchy people wouldn’t be held accountable for their roles, and things wouldn’t get done; or, that people on the team wouldn’t understand the boundaries of their jobs, and things would either slip through the cracks, or people would accidentally duplicate each others’ work. How has this played out in practice? Rachel feels that three key things keep the co-ing model successful: communication, asserting boundaries, and asking questions. Really, these are things that all of us should practice more in our day-to-day collaborations–professional, or otherwise!

 Our co-ing model is built to bend, not break; it allows for fluctuations in the lives of contributors, or for someone with a special skill or experience to step into a task outside their usual role if beneficial.  It’s hard work, but the model helps strengthen the tribe aspect of theatre work. We are the proverbial village, and together we’re raising this weird and wonderful brain-child: Freakshow!


We hope you\’ll join us!

We’re also (re-) committing to listening to you, our WTF audience. We want to open up our production process to you. We want you to meet and fall in love with the show, and, quite frankly, we want to meet you! Let’s hang out on February 14. We’ll bring the wine 🙂

Many thanks—seriously, MANY, MANY THANKS!—to our “Fall in Love with Freakshow” sponsors: HQ Raleigh and Michael David Winery/Freakshow Wines. We love you, too!


Fall in Love with Freakshow is a FREE event, but we do recommend you RESERVE A SPOT.

If you want to read the extended version of this team-written post, it can be found on PATREON. For as little as $1 a month, our Patreon subscribers will have complete access to \”The Freakshow Files,\” a series of journal entries from within the creative process!

Women\’s Theatre Festival is supported by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County. Freakshow is funded in part by the City of Raleigh based on recommendations of the Raleigh Arts Commission.

%d bloggers like this: