2013 Capital Fringe Preview: ‘Thank You for Staring’ by Patrice Gerideau

You are so Ugly…

Can you imagine hearing those words everyday of your life?  I can. In my twenties, I developed a skin condition, vitiligo, which caused me to lose pigment on the right side of my face. For some time, I wouldn’t look in the mirror, place myself in social situations or look anyone in the eyes. I had become a stranger to myself and had to face the difficulty of conflicting doctor’s opinions, strange looks, discrimination and self-doubt.

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which the cells that make pigment, or melanocytes, are destroyed. While it is not life threatening in the truest sense of the word, it is nothing less than less changing. When I was first diagnosed with vitiligo, I went through a period of thinking it was a dream. Each day, I would wake up and go to the mirror expecting to see my old face again. In the beginning, when the first set of doctors did not know what the problem was, I still had hope.  I kept thinking my skin would just go back to its natural color. I tried everything they told me.  When those things did not work, I finally had to get another opinion.  I was not ready to hear that I had this incurable, skin-altering thing called vitiligo.

Patrice Gerideau
Patrice Gerideau

Journalist Lee Thomas, in his chronicle on living with vitiligo, Turning White, says of the disease, “I can say without question that this disease has given me moments of despair and has lifted me into amazingly euphoric epiphanies.”

Like Lee Thomas, I’ve had my mountain top and valley experiences with vitiligo. Thank You for Staring chronicles this sixteen-year experience of highs and lows. In its purest form, it is just a story of one woman trying to deal with one issue that seems to define her life. In its redemptive objective, the show seeks to show one woman rising above the noise of the opinions of self and of others. In its aspirational goal, Thank You for Staring, seeks to connect various human experiences of being different, of feeling rejected and of feeling judged by appearances. As idealistic as we try to be, looks are such a big part of identity. We live in a country where looks matter, or should I say we live in a society where the looks that matter are not average. And we all have to figure out how to live with that and with vitiligo it can be very difficult.

Ironically, I began writing this story in 2004; however, it took me until now to feel comfortable sharing it with others. I have my director, Carol Cadby, to thank for that. I had entered Fringe with the objective of telling a different story, one about other women. My goal is always to tell and help women tell their stories. It took Carol to remind me that before I can empower others, the first story I must tell is my own. It is my hope that at the end of the show, audience members will walk away with one message, that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and that beholder must be the person staring back in the mirror.

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Sat, July 13 @ 7:15 pm
Wed, July 17 @ 6:00 pm
Sat, July 20 @ 2:00 pm
Tue, July 23 @ 9:15 pm
Sat, July 27 @ 4:00 pm
Goethe Institut – Main Stage
812 7th Street NW Washington, DC 20001
Less than two blocks from Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro
Purchase Your Tickets HERE, or call (866) 811-4111.

For more information on Thank You for Staring, visit www.patricegerideau.com or email [email protected].

Patrice is a writer, actor, and director. She is a South Carolina native who began her journey as an artist in sixth grade. She firmly believes in the power of the written, spoken, and performed word to transform lives. She is on a mission to tell and help women tell their stories through the literary & performative arts. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Journalism from the University of Georgia.  She spent time at New York University studying Poetry, Performance and Playwriting. She also studied dramatic writing in Cape Town, South Africa.  She is a graduate of Theatre Lab’s Honors Acting Conservatory.

Capital Fringe is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2005 with the purpose of connecting exploratory artists with adventurous audiences by creating outlets and spaces for creative, cutting-edge, and contemporary performance in the District. Capital Fringe’s vital programs ensure the growth and continued health of the local and regional performing arts community by helping artists become independent producers while stimulating the vibrant cultural landscape in our city.


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