In a quiet rehearsal room in an empty building, with a simple set laid out of five black stools and five small purple bins for quick costume changes, five actors are rehearsing, moving about the space and in between the stools, their words coming low and fast.
“One day, I started counting calories and it just went from there.”
“I started restricting probably when I was eleven, so I guess that was fifth grade or so.”
“When she got off the plane, I had to hold onto something to not fall to my knees. She had lost that much weight.”
“It never occurred to me that I might have a problem.”
Statistics vary, but the NEDA website states that approximately 10 million females and 1 million males suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia in the United States. This is not counting the population with lesser known eating disorders (binge eating disorder, orthorexia, compulsive exercising, etc.), nor does it take into account the millions and millions more living with a disordered mindset around food and their weight.
Breaking Up with ED, as a part of this year’s Capital Fringe Festival, portrays accounts of eating disorder victims in the United States. The director and creator, Angela Pirko, hoped to put together a project that would bring light to an issue she considers a national pandemic.
“I think there are still a lot of misconceptions in our culture about what eating disorders consist of, who has them, what causes them, and just how awful they can be,” Pirko says.
Breaking Up with ED intends to personify the disease that affects these individuals. Throughout the performance, each story shared by the actors has their character interacting with this disease in a unique and individual way, whether addressing it face-to-face or telling stories of their time spent living in this disease. The idea behind the embodiment of eating disorders as “ED” is to give this serious mental disorder a personality, a separate entity that sufferers can break away from.
Pirko interviewed dozens of victims: adults, children and medical professionals. She says she has kept the monologues and text of the play as close to the original interviews as stylistically possible.
“Each shared a unique perspective on their experience with ED, and the end result is, I think, a real kaleidoscope of all the facets of the disease – different paths into sickness and out again.”
All proceeds for the performance will go to the National Eating Disorder Association, or NEDA, to benefit their tireless work in education and prevention of eating disorders.
Venue: The Bedroom at Fort Fringe – 617 L St NW.
Saturday 7/14 4:00PM
Sunday 7/15 8:00PM
Thursday 7/19 9:30PM
Friday 7/27 7:00PM
Sunday 7/29 NOON
Purchase tickets here.
This production is presented as a part of the 7th Annual Capital Fringe Festival – July 12 – 29, 2012. A program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.