By Julia Borcherts, @JuliaBorcherts
June 25, 2013
If the world ends tonight, would you be prepared?
In the likely event that you're not, Sideshow Theatre Company gets you through it with the world premiere of former Chicagoan Carrie Barrett's "The Burden of Not Having a Tail," a one-woman comedy in which ensemble member Karie Miller—whom you may also have seen onstage as Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW) emcee Rockke L. Squelch—walks you through her post-apocalyptic bunker while dispensing tips on how to cope with worst-case scenarios, while also exploring what led her into the bunker in the first place. Ensemble member Megan A. Smith directs.
We called Miller—a Kentucky native who moved to Chicago in 2008 and is also a member of The Ruckus—to get her thoughts on survival skills, evacuation plans and more.
"The Burden of Not Having a Tail"
Go: 8 p.m. Saturday through August 4 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave.
Tickets: $20-$25, $15 for students, $15 or pay-what-you-can previews through Monday; sideshowtheatre.org
The best apocalyptic advice she learned from her character in the play: "She makes a big point about stocking up on salt and it's not something I would have thought about [laughs]—having the mass amount of salt that you would need."
What we'd miss most about the world as we know it: "The likelihood that you will not see people again—that when this happens, everybody goes into seclusion and has to separate off, especially the people who are prepared enough to go into bunkers. Those bunkers don't house everyone so you have to say goodbye to people but without knowing that it's the last time that you're saying goodbye to them."
Her own advice for surviving an apocalypse in Chicago: "Just like what FEMA would tell you—have an evacuation plan. Public transit and that sort of thing—as great as they are for daily life, they actually work against us in the state of a pandemic. People talk about a zombie apocalypse a lot and I have thought about it—not in great detail—but how would I get out of town? I live in Andersonville and I work in Uptown and so I'm a little concerned because I'm so in the middle of all these people."
How prepared she is personally: "I don't think I have made the proper preparations, food-wise, at my house; I have barely enough canned goods. [Laughs.] I have a couple flashlights that are out of batteries and I know that's no bueno. The woman in the play would not approve of any of my measures at all."
Why you should seek her out when the zombies strike: "I think I would be an ideal person to have in your bunker in an apocalypse. I am a crafty person; I am a problem solver. I was a Girl Scout. My mom taught us how to sew. My dad was a carpenter so I learned all this carpentry-buildy stuff. And I'm a good person to just deal with what we have in front of us."
The hardest part about being in a one-woman show: "When you're doing a scene with people in a play, there's so much interplay with all the different stuff that's going on onstage with the other actors. This, it's just me, so my interplay is so much more internal, environmental and whatever the audience gives me. "
The oddest thing she's ever done at an audition: "I did an audition where you had to do a silent clown piece in addition to your monologue. It had to involve a prop and some sort of discovery. And I did something about stepping in dog poop and this whole ballet of getting dog poop off of your shoe." [Laughs.]
A little-known fact about arm wrestling: "It's a diagonal activity more than it's a horizontal activity. I know that sounds weird but you get more leverage when you're pulling the other person's arm towards you as opposed to pushing the other fist across the table. You're able to use more of your back and more of your shoulders. It's also a whole-body experience. The wrestlers that doom themselves are the wrestlers that put their arm on the table and then sort of check out with the entire rest of their body. There's a lot of core strength you can use; there's a lot of back strength you can use."
The origin of her master of ceremonies persona's name, Rockke L. Squelch: "I'd been in two shows prior to coming to Chicago where the character had really large breasts. And I personally am not enormously endowed in the chestal region, but these characters had just massive cleavage and it was created through magic and scotch tape and paper clips or whatever. But I liked the idea that the emcee would be kind of vampy and kind of mean but also playing with the idea of the round [card] girls at boxing matches or pin-ups, like the feminine ideal clashing with the arm-wrestling thing. I thought of Raquel Welch and it was an obvious play on words there. But Rockke is so many fun things that I find in being a lady. Showing off your boobs is fun or wearing as much glitter as you possibly can cram onto your body—or sequins or feathers or rhinestones. All of these super-fun things to wear that I don't know a ton of people that indulge themselves in going there with any frequency. I obviously really enjoy all of that. It's a release in a lot of ways, and playful and my lady friends, at least, can identify with the fun that comes with that."
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