Jeannie (Annessa Melnick) says via her former boyfriend, Tom (Graham Koten). Jeannie is one of the characters that connect in fat-shaming as Tom becomes associated through Helen.

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Annessa Melnick reads over her lines throughout a rehearsal while director Henry Raynor Williams puts the finishing touches on her hair. “Fat Pig” opens Thursday in Riot Act, Inc.’s studio at the Center for the Arts.


‘Fat Pig’ prompts a look at the self, both inside and also out

Riot Act’s latest production touches on body photo and social stigmregarding get the audience thinking.


Those are simply 4 of the many kind of words the characters in Neil LaBute’s play “Fat Pig” throw approximately as they attempt to denigrate Helen, their coworker’s brand-new, plus-dimension girlfriend.


“This is a womale who’s being totally and also totally objectified because of what she looks choose,” director Henry Raynor Williams said. “It’s a really, really heartbreaking story.”


This week Williams will bring LaBute’s Olivier-Award-winning play to Jackson, directing 2 weekends’ worth of reflects for Riot Act Inc. that begin Thursday night.


The play, which centers on the story of Helen, a librarian played by Karissa Dabel, and also Tom (Graham Koten), her brand-new boyfrifinish, could at initially glance seem favor a staged version of “Shpermit Hal,” the Jack Black comedy from the at an early stage 2000s that played with body photo and also its associated stigma.


Jeannie (Annessa Melnick) says through her former boyfrifinish, Tom (Graham Koten). Jeannie is among the characters who connect in fat-shaming as Tom becomes affiliated via Helen.

REBECCA NOBLE/Jackchild Hole Daily

But while “Shpermit Hal” dances over those concerns for laughs, “Fat Pig” is not a lighthearted affair. It’s a play that transforms a mirror on its characters and its audience, forcing both to take a look at themselves and identify whatever before prejudice and also weaknesses they lug inside.


“You need to be open up to coming to a show like this,” said Patrick Nolan, who plays Tom’s friend and also co-worker, Carter, who has actually a penchant for saying “dick” in all its assorted creates.


“Fat Pig” was initially performed in 2004, years prior to the body-positive area had actually spearheaded a activity away from calling world “overweight” or “obese” in favor of words that bring less social stigma favor “massive,” “large” and “plus-dimension.”


The play’s initially off-Broadmeans run likewise came years prior to the clinical neighborhood began to reevaluate long-standing misconceptions around weight and also weight loss: that diets occupational in the long term, that weight loss has actually no adverse effects, that heavier people are invariably less energetic than lighter world and that weight gain is invariably resulted in by overeating and also underexercising (the “huge two”) rather than a host of other determinants, including varied hereditary task, emotional tension and also side impacts from drugs.


And though “Fat Pig” was composed prior to the people started to seriously question those well-establimelted scientific conventions, the play serves as a reminder that social stigmas and stereotypes are as pervasive this day as they were before the clinical re-review began.


What was true in 2004, the production states, is equally true this particular day. People are still shamed for their size, despite the larger cultural and clinical motion pushing versus stereotyping and also weight shaming.


Event details

The Fat Pig by Neil LaBute

7 p.m. doors, 7:30 curtain Thursday, Friday and also Saturday, and aacquire May 16, 17 and also 18; talk backs with topic issue experts at Friday shows

Riot Act, Inc. Studio, room 305 at Center for the Arts, 265 S. Cache St.

$20; $15 for students and seniors

RiotActInc.org


Macey Mott, Riot Act’s executive director, shelp the play’s focus on body-picture problems initially drew the theater company to LaBute’s script. The two Friday performances will certainly be accompanied by a talk-back session during which audience members will have actually the chance to pose concerns around body picture and also the accompanying psychology to a dietitian and nurse.


For Mott, staging “Fat Pig” in an intimate setting was an added bonus. This will be the initially show in Riot Act’s brand-new studio.


“This babsence box-kind room will certainly make the audience feel prefer they’re part of it and feel favor they’re voyeurs into these characters’ resides,” Mott said. “The method Neal writes renders the personalities incredibly real.


“You have the right to tell what they’re reasoning by the things coming out of their mouths, even if they’re not necessarily what’s on their minds.”


Mott’s statement could be a specifying mantra for all the personalities in “ Fat Pig.” Whether Helen, Tom, Carter or Jeannie, Tom’s previous on-and-off girlfrifinish, played by Annessa Melnick, each of the characters is guilty of some kind of verbal gaffe — intentional or not.


Carter’s and Jeannie’s flegislations are apparent. He and also she are the major perpetrators of the play’s fat shaming, calling Helen a “cow,” a “beast” and a “fat chick,” among a slew of various other insults. As the play goes on it becomes clear their outbursts are the result of their very own insecurities about looks and also relationships.


For Williams, expertise and relating to the psychology of Tom, Helen, Carter and Jeannie was an important first action for the cast. Rather than diving into line work,Williams had actually the actors spfinish the first week or so of rehearsal talking about the characters and also getting to recognize their own personal failings.


“Wright here is he wounded? Wright here is he carrying pain? Can you find those moments or have actually you felt those feelings within yourself?” Williams redubbed asking.


“Part of the journey for each among these actors has been to challenge themselves to go to deeper areas within themselves than they have actually for other theatrical performances,” he said.


Tom (played by Graham Koten) and Helen (Karissa Dabel) hit it off in a scene from Riot Act Inc.’s manufacturing of the Neil LaBute play “Fat Pig.”

REBECCA NOBLE/Jackchild Hole Daily Photos/

That’s in component bereason the play encounters such sensitive topic matter. It’s additionally bereason assuming each of these functions forces the actors to reckon with some components of their very own body or character’s personality that they, or others, may discover objectionable.


For Nolan, that plays Carter, that has actually intended abandoning the theatrical stance he adopted in “Chicago” and enabling himself to fit into a hyper-realistic role in which he torments another actor.


“It’s difficult for me to be nonchalant,” Nolan included, “however I understand now what it’s choose to not treatment and also believe you’re a cool man.”


Karissa Dabel, that plays Helen and shelp she has actually gained “most weight in current years,” initially discovered being actors in “Fat Pig” to be nerve wracking.


She went with with it, though, because she was interested in exploring the psychology behind body image onphase.


“It’s sort of been an emotional damaging ram,” Dabel sassist. “I’ve been required to reevaluate myself through her.


“It’s been type of refreshing to be able to be bluntly honest to the character, because she just forces you to be honest as her and she forces you to be hocolony as you.”


For Dabel, playing Helen has actually done more than pressure her to look inward. It has actually likewise provided her the possibility to look external and also evaluate exactly how stigma affects relationships, whether romantic or platonic.


“The hefty overlying theme of the play is body photo,” Dabel sassist. “I think to a deeper degree it’s even more about dealing with social stigma in every direction.”


Annessa Melnick reads over her lines in the time of a rehearsal while director Henry Raynor Williams puts the finishing touches on her hair. “Fat Pig” opens up Thursday in Riot Act, Inc.’s studio at the Center for the Arts.

REBECCA NOBLE/Jackkid Hole Daily/

Experiences from Carter’s previous led him to come to be the superficial snob that Nolan so expertly plays. Jeannie can’t shake her conviction that love comes just to the fit and beautiful. Tom, who tries at all times to be an excellent guy, can’t shake his friends’ and his very own internal pressure and finds himself embedded in a web of lies and misstatements.


And as Helen, as Dabel shelp, “tries to very own her weight” she inquiries Tom at eincredibly action in their connection, seemingly wondering if his feelings are actual or if he “lost a bet.”


“I think she’s constantly testing him,” Dabel sassist, “and also so she’s buying into the stigmas, saying, ‘Oh, there’s no method this man that is socially out of my league is serious about this.’”


Annessa Melnick (Jeannie) agreed through Dabel, saying that at its core “Fat Pig” is about relationships. Though body picture problems are front and center the play likewise faces worries of trust, truthfulness and also just how we, as people, respond to social norms.


“I feel like it’s about the social pressures of being a specific means and also dating a specific person and the expectations we put on ourselves, whether from the media or our friends,” Melnick said.


Performed in Riot Act’s brand-new studio, which seats around 30 human being per display, “Fat Pig” is designed to make people view, think and feel. The actors will be separated from the audience by no even more than 10 feet at any type of offered time, making sure the audience is a voyeuristic part of the production through the distinct ability to analyze the personalities and also their actions onstage, as the cast has done for the previous few months of rehearsal.


In Williams’ check out the play is intfinished to carry out more than entertain. It’s a mirror of sorts, giving the audience the chance to look at the personalities as a window right into their very own resides.


“It feels to me choose I’m witnessing something that’s happening, prefer I’m in a restaurant watching this totality point take location, as opposed to a fabrication or an edited version,” Williams said.

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Tom (Graham Koten), right, watches as Helen (Karissa Dabel) and Carter (Patrick Nolan) have actually an awkward conversation. LaBute’s play explores body worries and also the social stigma of being overweight.