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“Fat Pig” Is an Offbeat Romantic Comedy

Julya M. Mirro and Allan Maule star in "Fat Pig"

Julya M. Mirro and Allan Maule star in "Fat Pig"

The Free Association Theatre Ensemble will present Fat Pig, an offbeat romantic comedy by Detroit, MI-born 48-year-old playwright, screenwriter, and film director Neil LaBute, on Sept. 9, 10, 16, 17, and 22-24 in FATE’s storefront performance space at 267 Grande Heights Dr. in the Harrison Pointe Shopping Center in Cary, NC. Fat Pig had its world premiere Off-Broadway on Nov. 17, 2004 at the Manhattan Class Company Theater, under the direction of Jo Bonney.

“I first heard about Fat Pig a few years ago, while I was a student at Meredith College,” recalls director Stacie Whitley. “My love of Neil LaBute actually began when I was looking for female-heavy shows, and I came across his play Some Girl(s) [2005]. From there, I got interested in his ‘beauty’ trilogy [The Shape of Things (2001), Fat Pig (2004), and reasons to be pretty (2008)] and how he perceived images that some might not consider classically beautiful. Of the trilogy, Fat Pig is the second play.”

Whitley adds, “My favorite aspect of this show is how realistic it is. The people and their relationships are people we know and see on a regular basis. The language used is something you would hear on the street, or even use in everyday conversation. It is one of those shows which everybody can relate to. Originally, this drew me into directing this piece. However, I [knew I had] to direct it when I spent more time with the script, learning about the characters and even LaBute’s story of weight struggle.

“Being able to flesh out each character, and deciding why they behaved in a certain manner, made it impossible for me to even question whether or not I should back out and allow someone else the chance to direct,” says Whitley.

“FATE has wanted to produce this play for four years,” reveals FATE founder Julya M. Mirro, who will produce the show. She adds, “We are very excited to finally have all the right people in place to do this show. Stacie [Whitley] is an excellent addition to the FATE ensemble, first as an actor (Oh Baby and As You Like It), and now as a director. We are excited that she has agreed to direct another show with us in the 2012 season as well.”

Mirro adds, “We are also honored to work again with Allan Maule (Autobahn) and Wyatt Geist (The Retreat, Oh Baby), both of whom are tremendous talents. As a lifetime board member, Noelle Barnard has worked with us on many shows, and has been a member of FATE since our second production (Speed the Plow). I am personally grateful to her for all her support with the company over the years.

“I would also like to note that the creative team is primarily made up of seniors in high school (Deirdre Lewis, James McNatton, Sean Zeringe, and Ellen McCauley); and they are not only very talented, but delightful to work with,” claims Julya Mirro.

She adds, “James McNatton has come on board FATE as our youth board member, and in the three weeks he has been a member, he has worked almost nonstop on this production. FATE is very lucky to have such dedicated friends and talents (including our set designer Leslie [A. Pless], who is currently working outside Chicago, but came home to work on this set, and the entire Lefler family who work so hard and so often for us).”

Director Stacie Whitley says, “The show begins when Tom (Allan Maule) meets a vivacious ‘printed-word specialist’ named Helen (Julya Mirro). The pair hit off right away; and soon thereafter, they begin dating. While this is going on, Tom is keeping his new relationship under wraps from his boisterous friend/co-worker, Carter (Wyatt Giest), and also from his most recent ex-girlfriend/co-worker Jeannie (Noelle Barnard).

“As the show progresses,” Whitley says, “Tom’s co-workers soon find out the truth and are less than excited about it. The audience then sees the story unfold as they learn whether or not Tom will allow the opinions of others break up a relationship with a woman he cares for, just because she’s overweight.”

In addition to director Stacie Whitley producer and performer Julya Mirro, and set designer Leslie Pless, the Free Association Theatre Ensemble creative team for fat pig includes technical directors James McNatton and Julya Mirro, lighting designer Michael Lefler, costume designers Noelle Barnard and Julya Mirro, properties managers Jillian Lefler and James McNatton, sound designer James McNatton, and stage manager Deirdre Lewis.

Producer Julya Mirro says, “The set is a first for FATE — we have stepped into a more realistic vision than our usual conceptual style. Most scenes have their own ‘space,’ which comes into view from behind closeted doors, much like the truth comes out of hiding in each scene. There are five different locations, and we worked towards implying the environment without slowing the pace of the play down with elaborate set changes.”

Mirro adds, “The lighting is primarily realistic…. For costumes, it was important to all of us (Stacie [Whitley], Noelle [Barnard], and myself) that each character have a style that was very specific to the type of character they represent. Tom, the protagonist, is a bit of an ‘everyman’ and starts the play well put together. To both suit his mood and his personal journey, he becomes more disheveled as they play progresses, matching his inner conflict.

“The antagonizing Carter meets his work ‘dress code,’ but insists on wearing colors and ties that are less appealing, but noteworthy,” says Mirro. “Jeannie, persistent and always striving for perfection, is always well appointed, in high heels and sleek clothes which are always within dress code, but still sexy and body-conscious. Helen, the most comfortable in her skin, dresses for her attitude and without much consideration for her body type. Unafraid of what “people” think, she is proud of her physical assets, and dresses accordingly.”

Mirro notes, “[Fat Pig] runs approximately 90 minutes without an intermission…. [It] includes some adult content in the form of sexual language and an intimate scene in the bedroom. However, there is no nudity.”

She adds, “One of the biggest challenges to the creative team was making the space work for a more realistic set and keeping in mind line of sight and the small house we thought was necessary for this particular production. Finding the balance between a more ‘presentational’ style and FATE’s ‘environmental’ style was a challenging process. [Set designer] Leslie [Pless] worked hard to provide specific spaces for each location, and everyone worked together to enhance the environment for the audience, as is one of FATE’s hallmarks.”

Free Association Theatre Ensemble presents FAT PIG at 8 p.m. Sept. 9, 10, 16, 17, and 22-24 in FATE’s performance space, 267 Grande Heights Dr., Cary, North Carolina 27513, in the Harrison Pointe Shopping Center.

TICKETS: $15 ($10 students and educators, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 919/228-8184 or





The Play: (Wikipedia).

The Script: (Google Books).

The Playwright: (Wikipedia) and (


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