Faces of Fringe: A one-woman show written by one woman

Featured image by Erika Kate MacDonald

There are many shows involved in the Cincinnati Fringe Festival (Cincy Fringe) and I had the chance to talk about one of the more unique shows with the writer herself, Alexx Rouse.

“Busted Bumpers and Other Metaphors” is a one-woman show that focuses on growing up while having a friendly chat with your father.

What is your inspiration for writing Bumpers and Other Metaphors? What is it about?

My inspiration for “Busted Bumpers” has actually been brewing since I was around 13 years old. My dad drove me to high school every single day and we always talked about chronicling the talks that we had which could be about everything from history, to drugs, to my high school gossip. It’s grown up into part love letter to my dad and part working through my parent’s divorce and learning to grow up. Long answer short, it’s a coming of age story that has been almost a decade in the making.

Why did you choose to write a one-woman show?

I’ve always been really drawn to the format of one-woman shows and storytelling. I was raised with a lot of stand-up comedy and watching a lot of people tell stories (professionally and otherwise) and with the way I write and the stories I want to tell it just always made sense to me. It was something I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do — be interesting enough to tell stories that might resonate with others.

Who is directing it and why did you choose them?

An unbelievably awesome lady named Erika Kate MacDonald is directing my show and I am not worthy of her perfect self. It’s funny, I was actually friends with her boyfriend, Paul Strickland first (He’s doing “Balls of Yarns” at Fringe this year so you should see that too) and was inspired by the solo work he did. [I] even took one of his storytelling workshops thinking that he would direct my show when I eventually decided to do one.

But the more we talked about my script, the more it seemed like Erika was the perfect person for the kind of story I wanted to tell. I’d seen Erika perform before and always loved talking to her when I ran into her, but I had no idea that she also had this amazing body of solo work she’d done. When we had our first meeting earlier this year, it was obvious that she was exactly what I needed. She’s talented and honest and helpful in all ways and she has continued to be the greatest lady ever during this whole process. Not just directing, but helping me write and edit, network and talking down my nerves on way more than one occasion. She also won Critic’s Pick for her amazing show Evacuated! last year at Cincy Fringe which if you ever get a chance to see, you HAVE TO.

But I’ll stop talking now because I didn’t mean to go on this long. I’m kind of in love with Erika.

Is this your first time doing a show like this?

It is my first time ever doing a show like this! I’ve done smaller sets before for True Theatre and for storytelling workshops, but never a full 55 minutes by myself. I am both pumped and terrified in my bones.

Is rehearsal weird when it’s by yourself?

Rehearsal is so weird by yourself!

Especially when I didn’t have Erika I was constantly wondering if anything I was doing was making sense or cohesive. But I’m lucky to have had a lot of kind people who let me drag them into rooms and force them to watch my bits. And Erika to talk me down when I was convinced I was crazy.

How did you get into playwriting? And why?

I think it’s something I was always supposed to do. I wrote all the time as a kid and always loved telling stories, but I always kind of ran away from the idea of writing. I thought I was supposed to be an actor, but for some reason that never felt totally right to me. In college I was really lucky to have this professor named Brian Robertson who saw something in me and then subtlety bullied me (In a loving way!) into the playwriting program at NKU. I’m so glad he did. I’m at my best when I’m locked away somewhere pounding away at a laptop. Telling stories has always been my way to deal with and process things and playwriting has been the perfect avenue for me to do that.

Who are some people that you look up to?

I feel like I know a lot of people I look up to personally. To continue with my love letter, I really look up to Erika. Watching her solo show made me feel honored to just know her, let alone be her friend. She’s also one of those people who has a really gorgeous spirit and I count myself really lucky that she was a sort of Fringe big sister for me. I look up to Paul a lot too. The first time I saw his solo show “Ain’t True and Uncle False” was when went, “That. That is the kind of thing I want to do.”

Outside of people I know, I look up to a lot of stand-up comics [such as] Marc Maron, Ali Wong, Jen Kirkman and Matt Braunger. I also think I can quote any bit that Patton Oswalt or Louis C.K. has ever done in a stand-up special.

The show opens tonight at 7:45 p.m. at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. It will run until Friday, June 9.

There are a ton of other shows going on for Cincy Fringe so be sure to check those out too! Click here for the official line up.

Photo by Erika Kate MacDonald



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