Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The production, Fertile, will be appearing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this summer. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Heather Dowling: In Fertile, we meet Jenny, a woman with a plan - a plan to get pregnant. Everyone keeps telling her that time is running out; she just turned 35, after all. So, when those urine tests keep coming back negative, Jenny decides to take action and fix the problem. That’s when she runs into real problems…and real questions about fertility and motherhood. As Jenny faces the world of “mom options” – egg freezing, in-vitro, adoption, and more – the conversation about the expectation of procreation gets complicated. In a sea of outside opinions from her friends, her doctors, a beloved neighbor, and even God, Jenny ultimately has to look within to discover what motherhood means to her, what it means to be fertile.
BD: As the writer and performer of the show, what inspired the creation of this project?
HD: The two-year run and tour of my first award-winning solo show, Unemployed. Finally, one of the stories that audiences responded to most was when I shared about my personal challenges with infertility. Driven by the heartfelt response, I decided to share my story more completely. I interviewed dozens of women (and men, too) to discover, uncover, and encourage a conversation about procreation as an empowered choice. I discovered that no one was talking honestly about this issue. Only when I would "go first" and talk about the problems I ran into with my fertility would all of these private stories come out from the people in my life. There seems to be a whole world of shame and embarrassment wrapped up in the subject of procreation that leaves all of us left to face it alone...at least, we think we're alone. And, that sucks! So, this will be a conversation that most people have never had a chance to explore or see told in a truly open way.
BD: What can you tell us about the team that is bringing Fertile to life, and how would you describe the creative process by the ensemble?
HD: Solo shows SEEM like a one-person creation, but the truth of it is...every one of the interviews I had with each and every man and woman impacted my writing - and me, personally, too. And, there is NO WAY I would have had the courage to create this without the encouragement of my director/developer, Jessica Lynn Johnson. She directed my first show, Unemployed, and she has been my guiding light every step of the way. I also had the support of my incredible husband, Mike Dowling, he was so supportive in letting me tell this story when it is just as much his story as mine. Also, I have to give a shout out to my fellow solo performers in the Soaring Solo Community.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
HD: Who knew that fertility could be funny? Well, I did. From my own experiences and so many great conversations with other ladies (and gentleman), I was able to find the laughter that made all the difference for me when things didn't go as planned in the family department. My hope is that my show will touch hearts and tickle funny bones but also support all of those people who endeavor to create family and to let them know they are NOT alone in dealing with the complications and questions that come with it.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival the best venue for Fertile?
HD: Fringe is all about creating an opportunity for artists to bring to life their unique stories - to inspire, challenge, and entertain. It’s a sort of creative explosion and a great opportunity to connect with other artists.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Lounge Theatre from June 9-29, 2019. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
HD: I certainly hope the show will be selected for an Encore Award to extend the Fringe run. And I’ll be looking ahead to next Spring for Solofest at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, potentially.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
HD: This show is my number one priority at the moment - as you can imagine. But, I did just crowdfund a comedy series with my writing partner, www.DownTheMiddleSeries.com. We have plans to shoot the project in July and then we start looking for possible distribution.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Fertile?
HD: I know there are so many great shows going up on the boards at Fringe, so it would be my pleasure to have you see mine. Tickets and details at www.FertileConversation.com.
Show dates and times:
Sunday, June 9, 2:00 PM
Friday, June 14, 8:00 PM
Saturday June 29, 6:00 PM
The Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Boulevard
All tickets and information at www.FertileConversation.com and they can see everything I’m up to at www.HeatherDowling.com and on Twitter and Instagram (@saysheather).