By: Luke Faulks, Staff Writer
Following a staged reading in 2019, SFU alum and playwright Jessica Hood is bringing her first full-length play, bad eggs, to your screens as an online film-theatre hybrid.
The play tells the story of partners Persephone and Hades, who, after unsuccessfully trying to have a baby, visit a fertility doctor. The doctor, Eve, is also Persephone’s mother. After a panic attack, Persephone sets out to discover who she really is, beyond a wife and mother.
Initially intended to be a live theatre piece, the pandemic turned bad eggs into a virtual mixed media project. It’s still set on a stage, but uses different camera angles and animation to enhance the project’s reality.
Pedro Chamale, the project’s director and Hood’s husband, added the film-theatre hybrid offers an opportunity to challenge elements of both formats.
Chamale was originally brought aboard to play Hades, but was excited to take on the role of director. “I just see the magical realism, the surrealness, it’s just right up my wheelhouse,” he said.
That magic is enhanced in a film-theatre hybrid format, which Hood said gave them a chance to use rotoscope animation, a style where effects are traced into the project, frame by frame. In bad eggs, this animation is used to accentuate the panic attacks Persephone has, when “reality starts to crumble around her.”
In Greek mythology, Hades abducts Persephone. According to Chamale, the play explores what this could mean for the characters in a contemporary setting. “It’s a different kind of abduction,” Hood adds, explaining it serves as a pretext for a difficult relationship in the show.
Hood chose to bring together elements of Greek and Christian mythologies to highlight a recurring theme. “I have always been inspired by women in myth, and how there’s so little written about them; or when there is stuff written about them, it’s mostly what happens to them, but not what they do in their own story,” said Hood. “I wanted to see what would happen if they had more agency, if they got to choose their stories.”
The moral ambiguity of the characters informs the project’s larger themes. “I can see anyone watching really connecting with any of these characters, and also hating them all at the same time,” said Chamale. “They’re flawed, and that is just the way we are.
“I want them to see that they can be their own hero,” said Hood. “There is a hope for change in the play.”
The project is the result of years of work from Hood and Chamale. It hasn’t been easy to get their feet in the door.
“It’s definitely difficult out there,” said Hood. “Keep trying, keep going, but also find your collaborators. Find the people you want to work with, because they’re going to be the ones that will support you, and uplift you, and help you along your journey.”
Chamale said artists should be bold in their professional lives. “Don’t wait to think you’re good enough to apply for things, especially to fellow artists of colour or racialized artists, because we often think we’re not good enough for longer periods, and I wish I had felt like I was good enough sooner,” he said. “Take chances, apply for things, make your work, that’s how you’ll grow.”
You can see bad eggs online between March 16 and 27 for free or by donation to the artists. Tickets are available via Eventbrite.