On Stage

Filling the Void

Tales from a heroine’s journey
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Anneleise Kamola is a brave woman.

While she doesn’t have a reputation for leaping off tall buildings to stop crimes in progress or saving children from runaway trains, Kamola has definitely made a connection with her inner heroine—thanks in part to developing her one-woman show, Filling the Void

The performance, which takes place April 25-28 at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, has been years in the making. Kamola started it in 2010 as her senior project at Fairhaven College, and, thanks to support from her peers—not to mention friends and family who contributed to a recent Kickstarter campaign to get the finished version funded—is finally ready to present it to the public as a finished product.

While women’s bodies, food and culture are touchstones of Filling the Void, Kamola says she wanted to include the archetypal heroine’s journey into the performance, which focuses, in part, on her own struggles with issues like finding her own voice and dealing with an eating disorder.

In an effort to do so, Kamola revisits an Eastern European folktale, Vasalisa the Brave. The story focuses on a young girl, Vasalisa, who heads into the woods to retrieve fire from the Wild Baba Yaga. After passing a series of tests and returning home, Vasalisa discovers that everything has changed, and that she must get creative and rebuild her life in a new and different way.

“In Filling the Void, I weave together two stories,” Kamola says. “One is the folktale of Vasalisa the Brave. The second is my personal story about going into an eating disorder, and coming through the other side into my own personal power.

“This show takes a potentially shaming personal experience and turns it into an honored experience of a heroine’s journey,” she says. “It stacks many metaphors across the stories, ultimately returning to the profound and simple alignment of one’s own body and breath. This story addresses the cultural voices we hear, the bodies we feel and the stories we choose to live.”

While she admits it took a certain amount of bravery to commit to putting the performance together, Kamola says that as she’s deepened her relationship with the subject matter, the bravery has turned into “beautifully sustained courage,” which she considers to be a “quieter relationship with challenge.”

And, although it was difficult to talk about her overeating disorder at one point in her life, putting together Filling the Void cured her of that. These days, she’s delving into the bigger questions of existence, and hopes audiences will see that her own journey is part of a much bigger story.

“I think on a folkloric level, my story is a fractal of the most basic human struggle,” Kamola says. “I’m using archetypal characters, after all.

“On a personal level, I am telling my story as a fractal of our cultural story. I am offering voice to the blind spot that our culture is sick in many ways—eating disorders, to obesity, cancers, PTSD, violence, alcoholism, addictions, rape, wars, environmental destruction, on and on—because we are disconnected from our bodies and our sensate experiences. We feel alone. We’re not, and we’ve run out of time for perpetuating that myth.”

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